Dr. Roy Spencer’s Ill Considered Comments on Citizen Science

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Over at Roy Spencer’s usually excellent blog, Roy has published what could be called a hatchet job on “citizen climate scientists” in general and me in particular.  Now, Dr. Roy has long been a hero of mine, because of all his excellent scientific work … which is why his attack mystifies me.  Maybe he simply had a bad day and I was the focus of frustration, we all have days like that. Anthony tells me he can’t answer half of the email he gets some days, Dr. Roy apparently gets quite a lot of mail too, asking for comment.

Dr. Roy posted a number of uncited and unreferenced claims in his essay. So, I thought I’d give him the chance to provide data and citations to back up those claims. He opens with this graphic:

roy spencer homer simpson climate scientistDr. Roy, the citizen climate scientists are the ones who have made the overwhelming majority of the gains in the struggle against rampant climate alarmism. It is people like Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts and Donna LaFramboise and myself and Joanne Nova and Warwick Hughes and the late John Daly, citizen climate scientists all, who did the work that your fellow mainstream climate scientists either neglected or refused to do. You should be showering us with thanks for doing the work your peers didn’t get done, not speciously claiming that we are likeable idiots like Homer Simpson.

Dr. Roy begins his text by saying:

I’ve been asked to comment on Willis Eschenbach’s recent analysis of CERES radiative budget data (e.g., here). Willis likes to analyze data, which I applaud. But sometimes Willis gives the impression that his analysis of the data (or his climate regulation theory) is original, which is far from the case.

Hundreds of researchers have devoted their careers to understanding the climate system, including analyzing data from the ERBE and CERES satellite missions that measure the Earth’s radiative energy budget. Those data have been sliced and diced every which way, including being compared to surface temperatures (as Willis recently did).

So, Roy’s claim seems to be that my work couldn’t possibly be original, because all conceivable analyses of the data have already been done. Now that’s a curious claim in any case … but in this case, somehow, he seems to have omitted the links to the work he says antedates mine.

When someone starts making unreferenced, uncited, unsupported accusations about me like that, there’s only one thing to say … Where’s the beef? Where’s the study? Where’s the data?

In fact, I know of no one who has done a number of the things that I’ve done with the CERES data. If Dr. Roy thinks so, then he needs to provide evidence of that. He needs to show, for example, that someone has analyzed the data in this fashion:

change in cloud radiative effect per one degree goodNow, I’ve never seen any such graphic. I freely admit, as I have before, that maybe the analysis has been done some time in the past, and my research hasn’t turned it up. I did find two studies that were kind of similar, but nothing like that graph above. Dr. Roy certainly  seems to think such an analysis leading to such a graphic exists … if so, I suggest that before he starts slamming me with accusations, he needs to cite the previous graphic that he claims that my graphic is merely repeating.

I say this for two reasons. In addition to it being regular scientific practice to cite your sources, it is common courtesy not to accuse a man of doing something without providing data to back it up.

And finally, if someone has done any of my analyses before, I want to know so I can save myself some time … if the work’s been done, I’m not interested in repeating it. So I ask Dr. Roy: which study have I missed out on that has shown what my graphic above shows?

Dr. Roy then goes on to claim that my ideas about thunderstorms regulating the global climate are not new because of the famous Ramanathan and Collins 1991 paper called “Thermodynamic regulation of ocean warming by cirrus clouds deduced from observations of the 1987 El Niño”. Dr. Roy says:

I’ve previously commented on Willis’ thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article.

Well … no, it wasn’t “put forth” in R&C 1991, not even close. Since Dr. Roy didn’t provide a link to the article he accuses me of “never mentioning”, I’ll remedy that, it’s here.

Unfortunately, either Dr. Roy doesn’t fully understand what R&C 1991 said, or he doesn’t fully understand what I’ve said. This is the Ramanathan and Collins hypothesis as expressed in their abstract:

Observations made during the 1987 El Niño show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat, shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305K.

Why didn’t I mention R&C 1991 with respect to my hypothesis? Well … because it’s very different from my hypothesis, root and branch.

•  Their hypothesis was that cirrus clouds act as a thermostat to regulate maximum temperatures in the “Pacific Warm Pool” via a highly localized “super greenhouse effect”.

•  My hypothesis is that thunderstorms act all over the planet as natural emergent air conditioning units, which form over local surface hot spots and (along with other emergent phenomena) cool the surface and regulate the global temperature.

In addition, I fear that Dr. Roy hasn’t done his own research on this particular matter. A quick look on Google shows that I have commented on R&C 1991 before. Back in 2012, in response to Dr. Roy’s same claim (but made by someone else), I wrote:

I disagree that the analysis of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism has been “extensively examined in the literature”. It has scarcely been discussed in the literature at all. The thermostatic mechanism discussed by Ramanathan is quite different from the one I have proposed. In 1991, Ramanathan and Collins said that the albedos of deep convective clouds in the tropics limited the SST … but as far as I know, they didn’t discuss the idea of thunderstorms as a governing mechanism at all.

And regarding the Pacific Warm Pool, I also quoted the Abstract of R&C1991 in this my post on Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum. So somebody’s not searching here before making claims …

In any case, I leave it to the reader to decide whether my hypothesis, that emergent phenomena like thunderstorms regulate the climate, was “originally put forth” in the R&C 1991 Nature paper about cirrus clouds, or not …

Finally, Dr. Roy closes with this plea:

Anyway, I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying. But now I am asking him (and others): read up on what has been done first, then add to it. Or, show why what was done previously came to the wrong conclusion, or analyzed the data wrong.

That’s what I work at doing.

But don’t assume you have anything new unless you first do some searching of the literature on the subject. True, some of the literature is paywalled. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. And I agree, if research was public-funded, it should also be made publicly available.

First, let me say that I agree with all parts of that plea. I do my best to find out what’s been done before, among other reasons in order to save me time repeating past work.

However, many of my ideas are indeed novel, as are my methods of analysis. I’m the only person I know of, for example, to do graphic cluster analysis on temperature proxies (see “Kill It With Fire“). Now, has someone actually done that kind of analysis before? Not that I’ve seen, but if there is, I’m happy to find that out—it ups the odds that I’m on the right track when that happens. I have no problem with acknowledging past work—as I noted above,  I have previously cited the very R&C 1991 study that Dr. Roy accuses me of ignoring.

Dr. Roy has not given me any examples of other people doing the kind of analysis of the CERES data that I’m doing. All he’s given are claims that someone somewhere did some unspecified thing that he claims I said I thought I’d done first. Oh, plus he’s pointed at, but not linked to, Ramanathan & Collins 1991, which doesn’t have anything to do with my hypothesis.

So all we have are his unsupported claims that my work is not novel.

And you know what? Dr. Roy may well be right. My work may not be novel. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong … but without specific examples, he is just handwaving. All I ask is that he shows this with proper citations.

Dr. Roy goes on to say:

But cloud feedback is a hard enough subject without muddying the waters further. Yes, clouds cool the climate system on average (they raise the planetary albedo, so they reduce solar input into the climate system). But how clouds will change due to warming (cloud feedback) could be another matter entirely. Don’t conflate the two.

I ask Dr. Roy to please note the title of my graphic above. It shows how the the clouds actually change due to warming. I have not conflated the two in the slightest, and your accusation that I have done so is just like your other accusations—it lacks specifics. Exactly what did I say that makes you think I’m conflating the two? Dr. Roy, I ask of you the simple thing I ask of everyone—if you object to something that I say, please QUOTE MY WORDS, so we can all see what you are talking about.

Dr. Roy continues:

For instance, let’s say “global warming” occurs, which should then increase surface evaporation, leading to more convective overturning of the atmosphere and precipitation. But if you increase clouds in one area with more upward motion and precipitation, you tend to decrease clouds elsewhere with sinking motion. It’s called mass continuity…you can’t have rising air in one region without sinking air elsewhere to complete the circulation. “Nature abhors a vacuum”.

Not true. For example, if thunderstorms alone are not sufficient to stop an area-wide temperature rise, a new emergent phenomenon arises. The thunderstorms will self-assemble into “squall lines”. These are long lines of massed thunderstorms, with long canyons of rising air between them. In part this happens because it allows for a more dense packing of thunderstorms, due to increased circulation efficiency. So your claim above, that an increase of clouds in one area means a decrease in another area, is strongly falsified by the emergence of squall lines.

In addition, you’ve failed to consider the timing of onset of the phenomena. A change of ten minutes in the average formation time of tropical cumulus makes a very large difference in net downwelling radiation … so yes, contrary to your claim, I’ve just listed two ways the clouds can indeed increase in one area without a decrease in another area.

So, examining how clouds and temperatures vary together locally (as Willis has done) really doesn’t tell you anything about feedbacks. Feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems, which are ill-defined (except in the global average).

Mmm … well, to start with, these are not simple “feedbacks”. I say that clouds are among the emergent thermoregulatory phenomena that keep the earth’s temperature within bounds. The system acts, not as a simple feedback, but as a governor. What’s the difference?

  • A simple feedback moves the result in a certain direction (positive or negative) with a fixed feedback factor. It is the value of this feedback factor that people argue about, the cloud feedback factor … I say that is meaningless, because what we’re looking at is not a feedback like that at all.
  • A governor, on the other hand, uses feedback to move the result towards some set-point, by utilizing a variable feedback factor.

In short, feedback acts in one direction by a fixed amount. A governor, on the other hand, acts to restore the result to the set-point by varying the feedback. The system of emergent phenomena on the planet is a governor. It does not resemble simple feedback in the slightest.

And the size of those emergent phenomena varies from very small to very large on both spatial and temporal scales. Dust devils arise when a small area of the land gets too hot, for example. They are not a feedback, but a special emergent form which acts as an independent entity with freedom of motion. Dust devils move preferentially to the warmest nearby location, and because they are so good at cooling the earth, like all such mechanisms they have to move and evolve in order to persist. Typically they live for some seconds to minutes and then disappear. That’s an emergent phenomenon cooling the surface at the small end of the time and distance scales.

From there, the scales increase from local (cumulus clouds and thunderstorms) to area-wide (cyclones, grouping of thunderstorms into “squall lines”) to regional and multiannual (El Nino/La Nina Equator-To-Poles warm water pump) to half the planet and tens of years (Pacific Decadal Oscillation).

So I strongly dispute Dr. Roy’s idea that “feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems”. To start with, they’re not feedbacks, they are emergent phenomena … and they have a huge effect on the regulation of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales.

And I also strongly dispute his claim that my hypothesis is not novel, the idea that thunderstorms and other emergent climate phenomena work in concert planet-wide to maintain the temperature of the earth within narrow bounds.

Like I said, Dr. Roy is one of my heroes, and I’m mystified by his attack on citizen scientists in general, and on me in particular. Yes, I’ve said that I thought that some of my research has been novel and original. Much of it is certainly original, in that I don’t know of anyone else who has done the work in that way, so the ideas are my own.

However, it just as certainly may not be novel. There’s nothing new under the sun. My point is that I don’t know of anyone advancing this hypothesis, the claim that emergent phenomena regulate the temperature and that forcing has little to do with it.

If Dr. Roy thinks my ideas are not new, I’m more than willing to look at any citations he brings to the table. As far as I’m concerned they would be support for my hypothesis, so I invite him to either back it up or back it off.

Best regards to all.


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October 9, 2013 1:09 pm

Willis, as I noted on Dr. Roy’s blog, I like your work.
I read his article as commending you for your effort but look before you leap because it may have already been done. I didn’t see any personal attack on you whatsoever.
Your work is important Willis because it causes excellent dialog.

October 9, 2013 1:09 pm

Well, the comments should be interesting…

October 9, 2013 1:12 pm

Everyone breaks, but how they break is different case to case.
With you on this,W. Very well put.

October 9, 2013 1:13 pm

Pity it entered the public arena whoever started it. May be best to have a private conversation with Roy asap, Willis.

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 1:13 pm

Let’s try and keep it civil.
The one advantage that professional scientists have is access to the academic libraries that lets one be more assured of one’s originality. The internet has weakened that advantage.
But the change is not complete.
Both sides may have something of value to say here without falling into partisan flame fights.

October 9, 2013 1:14 pm

Does it really take that many words to get the idea across?

October 9, 2013 1:14 pm

You can tell something is going on because he used Homer the Citizen vs Homer the “Scientist”.

October 9, 2013 1:16 pm

BBould says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm
It’s easier now than ever to “look before leaping” by searching the literature on line, to avoid reinventing the wheel or an analysis. Citizen scientists can & have done valuable original research & analysis, including those in the climate field cited by Willis above.

October 9, 2013 1:18 pm

If the world’s ocean turns out to be too shallow to harbor Trenberth’s missing heat, it may very well next be asserted to be hiding in the unfathomable depths of Willis Eschenbach’s ego.

Ronald Voisin
October 9, 2013 1:21 pm

Willis, you’re way overreacting.

October 9, 2013 1:23 pm

He sounds just like the rest now.
The problem with “The Science” is that it’s only just poor communication of the excellent work, you see – because they are not professional communicators.
I think Dr. Roy can qualify to be funded by Fenton now!
“Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”

Lew Skannen
October 9, 2013 1:26 pm

Willis stuff may not all be entirely original but for most of us he is the one who got it out there onto the web. If Joe Schlubb thinks that it is all Willis’ original work then I don’t see any great harm done but given the amount of stuff referenced in Willis’ articles I am surprised that anyone would come to that conclusion.

Joe Crawford
October 9, 2013 1:30 pm

Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.

Tom G(ologist)
October 9, 2013 1:30 pm

Gentlemen. We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.
B. Franklin

Paul Penrose
October 9, 2013 1:31 pm

While I have not always agreed with everything you have written, I have never found you to be lazy or inept as Dr. Spencer seems to be implying. Since the good doctor felt it appropriate to criticize you in public, I have no problem with you defending yourself in kind; in fact I believe it is your right. Cheers to Anthony for allowing you to do so. To those out there that object, who never put their names and reputations on the line by publishing their thoughts and ideas online, I say: your words have no credibility until you walk that lonely road.

John A
October 9, 2013 1:33 pm

Dr Spencer appears to be calling Willis either unoriginal or a plagiarist. As Carl Sagan was wont to say “Extraordinary claims..”

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 1:34 pm

Can we avoid picking sides in comments that are fewer than 7 paragraphs long?
This isn’t a simple “he is good and he is bad” issue.
This is about a fundamental change on the search for knowledge.
The opportunity for amateurs to have the same access to evidence as professionals (due to the internet) removes the barriers to entry into the science market.
And yet it also removes the institutional quality control standards.
Willis admits he is willing to be wrong in the haste to new ideas and understanding. Mistakes and Sesame Street are how we learn. He is not so arrogant as to be afraid to be publically wrong. Better mistaken once than never gaining any new knowledge – if you are willing to be corrected.
But that is a big rupture with the dignified and private establishment of science that has allowed scientists to gain such prestige in the modern world.
And the old guard aren’t necessarily wrong because they are the establishment, hippies.

October 9, 2013 1:35 pm

Timely comment from straight thinking, Paul Penrose.
I’m fascinated by Roy’s us eof Homer the Scientist being led away in cuffs.
That was Homer the Activist!
What’s up with Dr. Roy?

October 9, 2013 1:37 pm

Willis, we love you

Nigel S
October 9, 2013 1:38 pm

This seems a real shame. Couldn’t you just settle it over a beer?

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 1:38 pm

Joe Crawford says at October 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. “Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.”

That has the ring of truth. There are commitments made in academia that cannot be ignored, rightly.

Peter Champness
October 9, 2013 1:40 pm

When it comes to the Thunderstorm Refrigerator Hypothesis I READ ABOUT IT HERE FIRST, and it was written by some guy called Willis Eschenbach. What is more it was very well explained, so I could understand it on the first read through, and also peppered with anecdotes about boats and the Pacific Islands, which made it interesting and kept me reading right through to the end.

October 9, 2013 1:42 pm

““Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”
This sounds plagiarized. From RealClimate. Or Mrs Hot Whopper?

October 9, 2013 1:43 pm

Given the choice of persons playing the roles of Homer the Scientist and Homer the Citizen, I give more credence to the latter.

October 9, 2013 1:48 pm

Good on you, Willis. It’s important not to let such accusations slide. As Dr Roy raised the issue, he should most certainly cite references, or man up and apologize and then back off. It sounds to me like he did not read your work but dismissed it out of hand, which is shabby to say the least.
@ M Courtney, there is nothing uncivil here. Willis has done some amazing work that took a lot of time and effort. Roy has claimed Willis’s work is not new. This should be discussed, not ignored.
It’s always the “citizen climate scientist” who is told to compromise, always the skeptic who is told to “play fair” and go sit quietly in the corner and not to make a ruckus. Well, this side has always played fair, always listened to the other side and always weighed the evidence. Willis has a valid complaint here and he is right to voice his objection.
Dr Roy should pull out those references if he wants to be taken seriously in his claim. Otherwise, he is just attacking the man. This is not scientific. “Both sides have something to say here” doesn’t hold water. Dr Roy may have something of value to say in this issue, but so far he hasn’t said it, and Willis is correctly inviting him to do just that.

October 9, 2013 1:49 pm

I like the cartoon of the Professional Climate Scientist.
Maybe he had his tongue in his cheek too! Just sayin’ (Though it’s hard to write with a tongue in your cheek…)

October 9, 2013 1:51 pm

I believe that the internet has turned the orthodoxy, the keepers of the orthodoxy, and their funders on their heads, very much the way the printing press and books in the vernacular did. I suspect that at his point establishment researchers feel very threatened.
Willisi’s work would not have seen the light of day without the internet.
The internet has also shined a light into the goings on in the climate science / government complex.
I suspect there will be a lot of road kill on the information highway.

October 9, 2013 1:54 pm

I’m sure that other people have done the work Willis has on the CERES data.
However having done the work is not the same as having published it. It’s quite possible they didn’t like the answer they got.
Climate science is full of people knowing information and then keeping it very quiet. If it wasn’t then WUWT and CA etc wouldn’t be needed.

October 9, 2013 1:55 pm

“Since the good doctor felt it appropriate to criticize you in public, I have no problem with you defending yourself in kind; in fact I believe it is your right”
I agree with the above.. so keep up your reseach Willis, you are making a huge difference to the entire climate discussion.
I think there might be some academic egos being upset by your original work, and that is normal, but unfortunately painful.

October 9, 2013 1:56 pm

I also enjoy and respect all your work Willis. I really like the emergent phenomena idea. It really makes sense to me.
I have to add that I respect Dr. Roy also, but think he crossed a line here.
Let’s try to keep this about trying to find the truth.

October 9, 2013 1:56 pm

“Muir soon became convinced that glaciers had sculpted many of the features of the valley and surrounding area. This notion was in stark contradiction to the accepted contemporary theory, promulgated by Josiah Whitney (head of the California Geological Survey), which attributed the formation of the valley to a catastrophic earthquake.” From Wiki on John Muir.
One was a citizen geologist the other professional geologist. Guess which one was correct.
Both gents put forth valuable ideas and information for us to feast on.
I second Tom G(ologist).

Mark Bofill
October 9, 2013 1:57 pm

Well, my two cents probably aren’t worth two cents. Here they are anyway.
I don’t know (or much care) if Willis’s ideas have been covered elsewhere in the literature; I haven’t read but a bare handful of climate related papers in my life. Willis asking Dr. Spencer to particularize seems reasonable to me, but still I don’t much care one way or the other. The point is, the ideas are new to me.
In virtually every other area of science (excepting my profession), I’m perfectly content to take career scientists at their word. For reasons well known to the folks here, climate science isn’t a good area to take this approach in. Too many scientivists out there, too much of an agenda, way too much spin.
Dr. Spencer seems to me to be suggesting, when I think it though, that I do the one of the following: go be a PhD, spend your time studying papers until you’ve become expert on what’s already out there, or sit down and shush. Well, sorry. I’m not doing that. I care enough about the issue to try to follow along, to try to grasp as much of the science as I can follow. Heck I’m even willing to crack my old math textbooks once in a while, or read and practice maths I don’t generally use from time to time. But between the evils, I’d rather stumble along, knowing perfectly well that people have studied this material in greater depth and sophistication than I can possibly appreciate, I’d rather stumble along and try to understand for myself than close my eyes and follow blindly. Nor do I have the slightest intention of devoting my life to the study of climate; I’ve got other priorities. I’m sure that means I’ll step on tons of well trod sopohmoric land mines along the way. I’ll live with that.
Obviously Dr. Spencer didn’t make the scientivist mess and political circus we suffer from in this field. Clearly he suffers due to this fact more than most, certainly more than I do. But, no, I’m not going to pursue a PhD in climate change, and no, I’m not going to sit down and shut up.

Lady Life Grows
October 9, 2013 1:58 pm

Willis, I am sure you will read all the comments, so I get to tell you that I tried breathing out after your post on that. It caused me to inhale deeply and I coughed up a storm. I have continued to do this a few minutes every day. I have mild (unmedicated) asthma, and I have been breathing a little better ever since. My stamina is a bit improved as well.
As for you, Dr. Roy Spencer, I have one of your books and you are one of my heroes, too. I bet you take this post to heart and become an even better scientist.
And as for you, Mister Anthony Watts, you have created a science blog that is more scientific in nature than many scientific journals–especially some of the “old gray mares” that “ain’t what they used ta be.” Those of us horrified at the trashing of science by the Church of Global Warming can take comfort here.

October 9, 2013 1:58 pm

I used to enjoy Willis’ posts, but it’s getting too much. This blog is getting to be less of Watts Up With That? and too much of What’s up with Willis !…

October 9, 2013 1:58 pm

Willis … you said:
“And you know what? Dr. Roy may well be right. My work may not be novel. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong … but without specific examples, he is just handwaving. ”
I say it doesn’t matter if its been done in some fashion before. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing work that has been done before. Sometimes doing so may find something new, but its is just as valuable to have someone like you walk thru the process and attempt to explain it – in a way that many can follow, discuss and contribute to.
Roy is simply wrong. It doesn’t matter if the work has been discussed before. There are numerous positive benefits to a new look – especially with a “crowd sourced” discussion along with it.
I don’t always agree with you, but I always learn from and am both challenged by and benefit from
your work.

October 9, 2013 1:59 pm

yeah right….like Spencer only posts “new” stuff on his blog….
New, old…don’t matter
Who’s got the time to dig all this crap out..
Thanks to bloggers like Willis, JTF, and on and on…
we are all exposed to material we wouldn’t even know about any other way
It’s a blog Spencer….get over it…sorry it picked a nerve with you

Chip Javert
October 9, 2013 1:59 pm

Not knowing either man, my impression is this conversation should have taken place one-on-one between Roy & Willis (i.e.: a phone call). Roy would appear to draw the foul here because he initiated the public rebuke and (according to Willis) failed to properly research & document his argument, which, ironically, is one of the faults he finds with Willis.
Roy (PhD) should be more supportive of “citizen climate scientists” who, like Willis (no PhD), invest hundreds of hours researching and analyzing the topic.
One absolute certainty learned from this whole CAGW cow pie is citizens should be leery of simply accepting pronouncements from (PhD) scientists. Willis may not have observed all the academic niceties, but he’s behave in a more rigorous and intellectually honest manner than Gore, Mann, Gleick and Hansen (among others).
My comments are not intended to denigrate Roy Spencer – the above is simply my opinion of the public rebuke.

October 9, 2013 1:59 pm

I’m good with turning all climate scientists into “citizen climate scientists” by removing all funding.

October 9, 2013 1:59 pm

What you talking about Willis –
Dr. Roy’s article is not a hatchet job, it is a cautionary tale and a reminder to cite precedent. All he is doing is advocating good science. Don’t be so thin skinned.

David Riser
October 9, 2013 1:59 pm

I don’t think it was an attack. But it does look like he was too busy to do a proper look at what you have done and by dismissing your work in the way he did, he is doing us all a disservice. I am fairly good at research and your work tends to make me do a lot of reading and research. I have not found anything like this in the literature but anyone who has spent a significant amount of time at sea would understand exactly what you are talking about. Thanks Willis, keep up the good work!
David Riser

October 9, 2013 2:01 pm

Joe Crawford says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.
Got to say, that was my first thought when reading Dr Spencer’s curious post.
Without speculating further on that, or on any merits of his argument, I’m not happy to see an otherwise respected scientist launch an ad hominem attack like this – and the cartoon at the start of Dr Spencer’s post alone qualifies it as that to me – for any reason whatsoever.

October 9, 2013 2:04 pm

Well, there are several definitions for ‘original.’ There’s ‘original’ meaning novel and there’s ‘original’ meaning independently derived. And then there’s ‘original’ meaning “a person whose way of thinking is unusual or creative.” That last is you, Willis. The rest is not so important. Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.

October 9, 2013 2:05 pm

“Willis, you’re way overreacting.”
He always does. PLus, I don’t think this is the place. Willis, you’re just not as important as you obviously think you are.
So tiresome.

October 9, 2013 2:06 pm

Willis, don’t over react to Dr. Spencer’s over reaction. There is an old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Having researched a number of Climate, energy, and other deeply technical topics (usable nanosurface in Helmholtz double layer capacitors), I can say with certainty that any academic advantage (other than real labs to do new physical experiments, which I had to contract for) is now minimal compared to any citizen willing to learn and research. Everything is on line, and pay walls can be breached with a credit card and a maximum charge of $32 per.
I know for a fact this has a lot of the old science guard upset. Not just those behind the IPCC. In the case of my issued NanoCarbon patents, including the most famous researchers in the US and Europe in that obscure physics/electrochemistry subject, Gogotsi, Frackowiac, and Beguin, at a June 2013 Strasbourg conference where my experimental results scooped them. I caught the same flak about not having read the literature. Thier problem was, I had, it was wrong, and my experimental results proved same. This looks like a very similar case. You must be getting close to something Roy wishes he had thought of, and that is important.
BTW,the closest thing to your thunderstorm thermoregulation idea appears to be Lindzen’s adaptive iris hypothesis published in 2000. I am stunned Roy missed that- more evidence of a bad hair day on his part. But what you have done IMO is flesh out Lindzens idea and provide concrete observational support Lindzen didn’t. Further, IMO, what you are doing with Lindzen’s hypothesis is more important than you may yet realize (but already written up separately for the next book) because it also explains the GCM model overstatement of positive water vapor feedback, especially in the most important upper troposphere. By far the most important positive feedback, by itself explaining over 2/3 of climate model oversensitivity. You also have a concrete explanation for the absence of the tropical troposphere hot spot predicted by CMIP3 and CMIP5. TStorm rain washes out the humidity before it is sufficiently convected to the upper troposphere, and the latent heat from condensation is free to radiate away from TStorm tops. Thermoregulation of both heat and humidity.
Regards. Enjoy your ‘limelight’. Just means you are officially in the major leagues.

October 9, 2013 2:06 pm

I like and respect both Roy Spencer and Willis Eschenbach. Also, I have had direct interaction with each of them in the past, so I am saddened at this situation and I do not intend to take sides.
However, I write to make a point of fact.
Roy Spencer is mistaken when he thinks the work of Ramanathan and Collins (R&C, Nature, 1991) is similar to the work of Willis Eschenbach, and he is also mistaken in his misunderstanding that Willis was unaware of the work of R&C.
A few weeks ago I raised the subject of the R&C Effect in a WUWT thread discussing a Guest Essay from Willis. At September 22, 2013 at 10:40 am I cited, referenced, quoted the Abstract of that paper by R&C, and I explained it. The post is at
In that post I wrote

The R&C Effect can induce a fall in surface temperature when surface heating is increased. And the Eschenbach Effect does that, too.

Subsequently, and in response to Greg Goodman, I posted a more full explanation of the R&C Effect and its great difference from the Eschenbach Effect. That post was at September 22, 2013 at 11:30 am and this is a link to it
In that post I wrote

I point out that the Ramanathan & Collins (R&C) effect induces cirrus not thunderstorms. They argued – initially against much opposition which their finding withstood – that when sea surface temperature reaches 305K the induced evapouration rate is so great that warm air rises to lift evapourated moisture so high that cirrus formation occurs. This cirrus sets the maximum surface temperature by reflecting sunlight so it cannot reach the surface.
The Eschenbach effect raises heat from the surface to high tropospheric altitude where it radiates to space. It starts to operate at temperatures below 305K.
They are very different – and complimentary – mechanisms.

As he normally does in threads discussing his essays, Willis interacted throughout that thread. He made no disagreement of any kind with my posts.
Hence, I am certain that Willis Eschenbach was fully aware both of the R&C Effect and its fundamental difference from his proposed Eschenbach Effect in his recent writings. Clearly, Roy Spencer was in error to have suggested otherwise. Being the gentleman I know him to be, I anticipate a retraction of that assertion.

bit chilly
October 9, 2013 2:07 pm

mcourtney at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/09/dr-roy-spencers-ill-considered-comments-on-citizen-science/#comment-1442036 says
The opportunity for amateurs to have the same access to evidence as professionals (due to the internet) removes the barriers to entry into the science market.
And yet it also removes the institutional quality control standards.
i think the big problem most of us have is with those very same quality control standards.if those quality control “standards” in climate science were actually worth something i doubt this blog would have the readership and views it does. i have made a post over at dr roys blog, i sincerely hope this difference of opinion is resolved amicably,and dr roy can indeed provide the evidence willis asks for to support his conclusions.
i think dr roy has the support of many interested in the debate due to his apparent honesty ,and clarity of presentation,but so does willis . someone has mentioned the willis ego,show me a man without an ego,and in reality i will be looking at a eunuch.man would have achieved little without the ego and arrogance of supreme confidence in his ability.
in my opinion the regular beating many ego,s in the climate science world have received of late is partly responsible for dr roys post.

October 9, 2013 2:08 pm

==> how does a citizen scientist in the 21st century nail down the science so others can
    stand on their shoulders
rather than
    stomp on their toes?
Let me suggest a couple of things.
1) I view your work as “crowd sourcing”.
    you haven’t necessarily done the academic article/research
    to sort through the chaff to find the useful information or carry it
    forward to provide substantiation.
=> and you aren’t being paid to do that!
2) There are a large number of folk who technically review the work on WUWT.
    you might ask for (and have a good place to enter) relevant previous
    research/technical article that they are aware of.
Bottom line:
a) folk who are paid and must dot i’s and cross t’s get frustrated with folk who aren’t but who are willing to stand up and publically hypothesize solutions.
=> the non i dotters may have interesting insight, but it isn’t going anywhere solid
b) you might take Dr. Spenser’s comments to heart: how does one solidify the ad-hoc conceptual approaches into a solidly supported (or disproved) theory or knowledge set?
For example: you hypothesize and give anecdotal insight into a possible mechanism for thermal feedback mechanisms in the tropics.
=> what would be the next step to “nail this down”: what experiment, what data, etc?
=> who else has investigated this and what have they found?
Key things:
=> you aren’t being paid to do this which tends to leave it “hanging”, and
=> you might want to take the approach of “crowd sourcing”
    where you coordinate, organize, and articulate the result.
Unfortunately, WordPress would seem to be somewhat of a poor fit for such a research discussion and even the “collaborative work tools” out of IBM, Microsoft, and startups seems to be lacking; blogs are useful but not archival except for the author (until they crash).

October 9, 2013 2:10 pm

Now wait Tom G(ologist)… B. Franklin was just a “citizen scientist”. Toss all he discovered and said, he wasn’t a “professional”.
This rings from one of Densel Washington’s great movies:
“I’m a professional, I’m a professional, I’m a professional … ”
No Dr. Spencer, you are really just a “citizen scientist” too, just one with an unfair, and to me, many times dishonest advantage harbored in the current science community cartel. We all went to much the same universities, took much the same courses, have read much the same science papers and books for decades, the only difference is you got a job getting income from the science monolith.

October 9, 2013 2:11 pm

Willis, as an outsider you are encroaching on the academia’s hallow turf of ‘truth licensing’.

October 9, 2013 2:11 pm

I was really put off when Roy engaged at the end of his testimony to give what seemd a pre- arranged message on his religious leanings.
I would be put off by that were I living in a country as different as Denmark is to Pakistan.
He was supposed to be talking about what Science knows.

October 9, 2013 2:11 pm

Climatologists are predicting an increased chance of tempests due to heat hiding in a teapot.
Gotta say though, this is just caste-baiting nonsense from Mr. Spencer. His entire complaint is that Mr. Eschenbach is duplicating work. But the entire point of replication in science is? To duplicate work. Don’t want to say nasty things about Spencer, but it doesn’t seem to me more than fancy Argument to ‘Argument to Authority’.
Which is all that needs to be said on the matter, Willis. Don’t get sidetracked over clay feet.

October 9, 2013 2:12 pm

I have learned a lot about science since I started reading WUWT and other blogs. I also learned a fair bit about academia
Seems to me that academics are like horse sh1t.
Spread them around thinly, and they do a power of good. Pile them into a heap and they just stink
Stay clear of the heap Willis

bit chilly
October 9, 2013 2:13 pm

Rud Istvan,that is a fantastic post. the group think mentality is very evident in many areas of established science,well done done for beating it down with cold hard evidence.

October 9, 2013 2:15 pm

Looking at these two:
Their hypothesis was that cirrus clouds act as a thermostat to regulate maximum temperatures in the “Pacific Warm Pool” via a highly localized “super greenhouse effect”.
My hypothesis is that thunderstorms act all over the planet as natural emergent air conditioning units, which form over local surface hot spots and (along with other emergent phenomena) cool the surface and regulate the global temperature.
it seems like the two hypotheses are tangentially related. A average guy like me would read yours as extending theirs to a larger, global scope, advancing (aka “adding to”) what others have done before. Isn’t that what Dr. Roy says he wants or am I being to Homer Simpsonish?

October 9, 2013 2:17 pm

I’m not sure what is going on with Dr. Roy. I’m not sure why he is attacking Willis. He seems to hint that he does not want people to get off on the wrong science road (where, he implies, Willis is taking them), but then he hints that Willis “copied” (my wording, not Spencer’s) from peer-reviewed papers. The two ideas don’t equate.
And, why WIllis? Great garbled garbage, aren’t there literally 100’s of “establishment scientists” that Dr. Roy needs to be attacking, to clean up his profession?
If Dr. Roy has so much free time on his hands that he can attack Willis, maybe he should find a charity where he can donate some of his time–THAT would be constructive.

bit chilly
October 9, 2013 2:18 pm

eternaloptimist,stunning analogy,i hope you do not mind if i use that in the future 🙂

October 9, 2013 2:18 pm

Since Dr. Roy’s article is without references my guess is that his future funding is being threatened.

October 9, 2013 2:19 pm

Could it be that Roy’s funding chain has changed recently ? Just asking.

October 9, 2013 2:20 pm

it is a great pity to see two of the most prominent anti-Warmist figures fighting with each other in public view. This sort of thing is best worked out in private exchanges. There is enough work to be done in the struggle against the Warmists without the effort being weakened by this sort of wrangle.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 9, 2013 2:21 pm

IMHO, if Dr. Spencer is correct and Willis’ ideas have been extensively published before, then his criticism is much more profitiably directed to the IPCC, which has completely failed to recognize or cite any of it. Any failings ascribed to citizen scientists for lack of proper research should apply a thousandfold to an organization claiming to include hundreds of “top climate scientists” having just spend 4 years studying all the latest research.

October 9, 2013 2:21 pm

“my ideas about thunderstorms regulating the global climate ”
That may well be original to Willis but is likely wrong as being insufficient.
“that emergent phenomena regulate the temperature”
That is a whole different scenario since it covers the entire global climate system including all aspects of the hydrological cycle.
It is likely correct but I would be surprised if it is original to Willis.
“the idea that thunderstorms and other emergent climate phenomena work in concert planet-wide to maintain the temperature of the earth within narrow bounds.”
There Willis combines the two but is that idea original ?
It was first published at WUWT on 14th June 2014 and described the behaviour of tropical weather systems as the regulating process.
The year before that I published several articles proposing the entire global air and ocean circulation as a regulating mechanism:
June 25, 2008
June 18, 2008
“The Earth is well able to adjust it’s built in thermostat to neutralise all but the largest categories of
disruption (usually geological or astronomic) and humanity does not come anywhere near what would be required.”
from here:
January 8, 2009
I am sure all overlaps are inadvertent since it is often the case that different enquiring minds come to similar conclusions around the same time.

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 2:23 pm

A.D. Everard Yes, Dr Spencer needs to be clear as to how Willis has been unoriginal.
And I would prefer such discussions to be made in private.
But that is not the way of internet citizens and Dr Roy chose to play on Willis’s turf; that is an admirable choice.
I maintain that we who are not in the firing line should not become partisan.
From my perspective both sides are honourable searchers for truth.

October 9, 2013 2:23 pm

Sorry, Willis first published 14th June 2009. Please ignore my typo or could the Mods amend it for me.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
October 9, 2013 2:27 pm

Above should read “… having just spent …”

Jeff L
October 9, 2013 2:27 pm

Wilis, I don’t read Dr. Roy’s comments as an attack on you at all – I am not sure why you took it that way. From a disinterested 3rd party, it all looked like constructive criticism to me. Your comments on the other hand, were defensive & much more of an attack on Dr. Roy.
It is always good to be deferential to those is power, such as Dr. Roy – look at his comments as constructive criticism & improve your product. I am guessing everyone will be pleased with the outcome, including yourself.

October 9, 2013 2:27 pm

Roy is wrong to slander anyone not doing “novel” work. There’s plenty of scientists who never do an original piece of work in their lives, their work and expertise have great value.

Jean Demesure
October 9, 2013 2:33 pm

In automation and system control, “regulator” or “controller” would be used instead of “governor”.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 2:35 pm

Excellent essay, Willis. You defended yourself in all the right ways and you questioned Spencer in all the right ways. You have shown a nasty side to Spencer. He writes:
“But if you increase clouds in one area with more upward motion and precipitation, you tend to decrease clouds elsewhere with sinking motion. It’s called mass continuity…you can’t have rising air in one region without sinking air elsewhere to complete the circulation.”
Here he is simply applying a rule of thumb from textbook climate science and failing to look at the details of your actual empirical hypothesis. When he made this comment the first time, here on WUWT, I pointed out then that the rising and sinking of air might tell us something about cloud formation but it does not determine cloud formation. There is need for empirical study on the latter.
Then the mainstream climate scientist in Spencer comes out:
“So, examining how clouds and temperatures vary together locally (as Willis has done) really doesn’t tell you anything about feedbacks. Feedbacks only make sense over entire atmospheric circulation systems, which are ill-defined (except in the global average).”
So, according to Dr. Spencer. all climate science will ever give us are global averages based on time series analysis? In that case, he has left science and joined the Alarmists. There has never been a science based on the results of time series analysis and there never will be. Does anyone use time series analysis outside of economics, political science, climate science, and corporate directors of budgeting?
Willis offers physical hypotheses about cause and effect in cloud formation that invites empirical investigation and Spencer dismisses it out of hand. Ridiculous. Trenberth has explained recently that he will be investigating the particular ocean mechanisms that transport heat from shallow water to deep waters. Trenberth needs to find mechanisms described by physical hypotheses. Will Spencer call him down and tell him to use time series analysis to provide global averages?
Finally, Willis should not be held to the standards of tenured professors of climate science. Those tenured professors work in buildings where someone in that building has ready memory of all the papers written on any topic you want. Willis works alone.
Willis is fortunate that he works alone. It is becoming apparent, through the opinions of people such as Spencer. that everyone who works in climate science is averse to formulating and testing physical hypotheses about cloud formation. Spencer wants to keep us in the doldrums of global average non-science and nonsense.

October 9, 2013 2:35 pm

Citizen Science should be appreciated for what it achieves. It is not important if someone repeats work done by others even if ignorant of such previous research, in fact that should be one of it’s strengths, either providing an independent confirmation or providing an opportunity to view the subject from a different perspective.
With a mechanical engineering background, I always sought to surround myself with a team of people who rather than all having been trained to approach problem solving from a text book, were instead mainly independent thinkers who tended to think outside the box.
Sure, some weird solutions were often thrown up, but as problems progressed from the easily solved where the solution was readily arrived at with most of those addressing it locking onto it fairly quickly, the more difficult problems as they progressed upwards saw the solutions being suggested becoming more and more divergent until finally, with the most difficult to solve of all problems, often it came down to one person who happened to see or consider something that nobody had seen or considered, that is until that one person pointed it out, then everybody could see it.
Whenever I heard the words “Why didn’t we think of that” I took that as having been a success for the team as the last thing I wanted to here was “We all came up with the same idea at the same time”
Keep doing what you are doing Willis. Don’t worry about what criticism others might make, especially if it comes from them defending what they consider their territory. Even though they may try to profit from it, such knowledge ultimately belongs to all citizens.

Gene Selkov
October 9, 2013 2:39 pm

There is a 100% certainty that whatever you do in public will upset some people and make others happy. Count me among the happy ones here; I just like seeing errors corrected. I would like it as much if it were Roy correcting an error made by Willis. In this case, I do appreciate Willis’s taking the time to show the less experienced among us here how to do it properly.
Overreacting? I don’t know, but I am 100% certain that whatever your reaction to something is, many will judge your reaction excessive, and perhaps just as many will find it insufficient.
But I have a slightly off-topic question about feedbacks.
Willis, I am sorry to be so thick, but I fail to understand the importance of your taxonomy of feedbacks. If I have a system with a negative feedback, I can use it as a regulator, or governor, whether its feedback factor is fixed or variable. For example, linear op amps are used in feedback circuits such as power regulators because their linearity and the constancy of the feedback factor make them easy to design. On the other hand, the fill valve in my lavatory cistern is controlled by a float through a variable (but consistently negative) feedback. What difference does it make if both systems succeed at keeping a quantity of something at a set level?
The only difference I can imagine will be in the dynamics of their response to perturbations, or the accuracy of their steady state.
So I wonder if you could perhaps explain us with more examples what makes the word “governor” more important to you than other synonymous terms, and why just “feedback” does not work. I grew up with the word “feedback” meaning any mechanism whereby part of the output is combined with the input, and the use of the word was not sensitive to the nature of that mechanism (or I failed to sense it).

October 9, 2013 2:41 pm

I made a mistake….I should have read Dr. Spencer’s blog first..
…I withdraw my comment and sincerely apologize to Dr. Spencer
Latitude says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

October 9, 2013 2:42 pm

After years of reading papers on climate science.
I am convinced that I have read the definitive answer.
Michelson and Morley
They proved that climate models do not depend on the real existence of CO2.
Hendrik Lorentz:
Proposes the existence of temporal dilation of heat in the ocean depths.
Meanwhile at the patent office, Bern, Switzerland ……..
Boys [W. and RS] back to the drawing board.
You two. Did not know how to do politics.

October 9, 2013 2:44 pm

Jeff L says: October 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm
“Wilis,(sic) I don’t read Dr. Roy’s comments as an attack on you at all – I am not sure why you took it(sic) that way. From a disinterested 3rd party, it all looked like constructive criticism to me. Your comments on the other hand, were defensive & much more of an attack on Dr. Roy.
It is always good to be deferential to those is(sic) power, …”
Ah yes Deference to Power that’s what we need. A million dead here 50 million dead there, doesn’t matter as long as we have Deference to Power.
Maybe I missed your irony; yeah that’s it. Sorry, my mistake.

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 2:46 pm

bit chilly says at October 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm…
The institutional quality control standards are very weak at the lower end of the market. The dumber journals accept any old rubbish. Nature Climate Change is a fine example of a journal that lives off exciting papers which are never cited again after 3 months.
The institutional quality control standards are very strong at the upper end of the market. Yet those journals don’t get anywhere near the readership of WUWT.
The as yet unanswered question is how important and skilful are the readership of WUWT.

RC Saumarez
October 9, 2013 2:49 pm

Roy Spencer is a professional scientist and has worked in remote sensing for many years. He is likely to have a sophisticated understanding of his field.
Is Steven McIntyre a citizen scientist? He is a trained mathematician and has years of experience in the practical use of statistics. Because of this, he was able to dissect the mathematics used by Mann, publish his results, and show that it was incorrect. It is unlikely that someone who has not had mathematical training would have spotted Mann’s error.
What is the problem with citizen scientists (CS)? None, anyone is entitled to express their opinions and good luck to them. The difficulty is when the CS uses techniques that he/she doesn’t understand, produces slip-shod work, can’t perform experiments and then wants to convince the scientific community that he or she is correct and everone else is wrong.
The training of a scientist is directed at learning experimental and theoretical methods but, above all, to understand how to apply these methods in a sensible and critical way. A scientific training is a foundation to be able to apply critical thought in a scientific context. To say that the citizen scientist can, in general, perform in advanced science is to say that scientific training is superfluous and a deep understanding of experimental methods, mathematics, data analysis, statistics isn’t really necessary to achieve sensible results. In fact why have scientists at all when any CS can knock up antibiotics, design large bridges, discover atomic particles and so on?
There are of course notable examples of Citizen scientists. Einstein for example. The thing that makes these citizen scientists proper scientists is that they publish their results in mainstream journals, expose themselves to independent criticism and defend there theses with logic.
This is the critical distinction. Probably every scientist becomes obsessed by an attractive hypothesis, performs the wrong experiment, fails to calibrate a device properly and so on. The essential aspect of science is that one opens up one’s ideas to criticism so that one’s logic and methods can be attacked by knowledgeable critics. If they show you that you are wrong, then you are wrong, if you can defend your thesis you may be right.
Unfortunately, there are other types of CS, who do not understand data, its limitations, experimental methods, calibration or any relevent mathematics and produce absolute nonsense. In my experience these individuals are extremely sensitive to criticism and distinguish themselves by refusing to adhere to the normal disciplines of science. If their ideas are not tested they can’t tell if they are are correct. Unless their ideas are revolutionary, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to try and test them experimentally and so what they have to say is unlikely to be important. In this case what passes for citizen science isn’t science.

October 9, 2013 2:50 pm

Roy should not be your hero Willis. All the great people who write for WUWT are being slandered. Stop giving your enemies a break.
don’t be polishing a turd.

M Courtney
October 9, 2013 2:51 pm

Latitude says at October 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm…
I drafted a confrontational post to your earlier comment and then deleted it without posting. It would have been self-defeating to fight every partisan post.
Now I’m very glad I did.
Thank you and well done for such a courageous action as a retraction.
You are well worthy of my respect.
Please point it out next time I get over-emotional with you.

Sweet Old Bob
October 9, 2013 2:54 pm

Hmmm ….I hope that Dr Roy has not been placed in the position of the “herd bull” (guard/protector) and notices that a possible predator is in view….and the herd has grazed a bit away from him…so he snorts,tosses his head/horns,paws a bit of dirt in the air…the herd notices,trots up behind him and now present a united front….feel safe…
Sure hope that this is not the case . Best wishes for both of you.

October 9, 2013 2:54 pm

M Courtney says:
October 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm
well, you know, what can I say
…I was dead wrong and made a total ass of myself
thanks M!

Alan Millar
October 9, 2013 2:54 pm

I think Dr Spencer would never have accused a fellow ‘professional’ scientist, of having published something which basically copied someone else’s work, without quoting the references. Just not done!
I don’t see why he should do this therefore to a ‘citizen’ scientist frankly. It is discourteous at best..
What is a ‘citizen’ scientist and a ‘professional’ scientist anyway?
I studied maths and physics originally and my first job was as a scientist, helping to develop the RB211 jet engine.. I subsequently moved on in my career and took further degrees and took non science jobs. Did I hand in my ‘scientist’. brain along the way somewhere, I don’t recall?
At what stage did I become and cease to be a ‘scientist’?
Willis stands on falls on being a ‘scientist’ by reference to his ideas and his backing of them with written referenced work, not by the title of some current position he holds.

October 9, 2013 2:56 pm

Bit Chilly, thanks. You might ‘enjoy’ my two ebooks even if you disagree with them. Real cheap.
In re scientific quality control, the real world does a very good job, albeit sometimes slowly. The AR5 hiatus handling is a topical example.
But that raises other issues where Willis and I have fundamentally disagreed on this blog and over at Judy Curry’s concerning energy. We disagree, probably because I have done a deeper dive, and possibly because I have less faith in being able to innovate out of the basic situation than he. No matter, he is a true seeker of truth that Roy should not have so backhandedly disparaged. And whom I would always defend as a truth seeker. Unlike many at the IPCC, or Mann, or Trenberth, or Dessler, or Marcott, or Feely, or …( it is a very long list, mostly posted over at Judith’s)

Ron Hansen
October 9, 2013 2:58 pm

Willis, I don’t understand all your posts (well above my educational level), but I try and I have learned a lot. I want to thank you for being such a great teacher. Your posts are always most clearly written and the graphics are well explained. But what I admire most is the respect and patience you show to people who question your posts. If questioners have the courtesy to do what you ask,
“if you object to something that I say,
please QUOTE MY WORDS, so we can all see what you are talking about.”
and to cite your references so that everyone knows PRECISELY what they are talking about.
Personally I enjoy the acerbity with which you occasionally respond to the trolls and the Climate Agnotologists.

Hans H
October 9, 2013 2:59 pm

Well ..Willis kicked the ball over to DrRoy now…rightly so. I think that DrRoy will answer in some way. Theres lots of room to boost boths egos and all the egos of us AGWsceptics…if the answer from DrRoy is made in the WUWT spirit…lets hope it is.

Robin Hewitt
October 9, 2013 3:00 pm

pokerguy says: Willis, you’re just not as important as you obviously think you are.
Willis is important to me.
Whether Willis is important scientifically can only be determined by hindsight after we know where his conjecture and rather splendid graphs led.

October 9, 2013 3:00 pm

Willis – I think Roy’s statement should be seen as helpful not antagonistic. He’s positive about you (“I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying“), and recognises the difficulties (“Sorry, I didn’t make the rules“). He points out that you need to give credit to the past work of others when yours overlaps, and I’m quite sure you will very willingly do that if you find any. But he also says neatly what I was trying to say in my comments on earlier threads: “examining how clouds and temperatures vary together locally really doesn’t tell you anything about feedbacks“. Naturally, I think this is an important point too!

October 9, 2013 3:01 pm

I have to agree with the sentiment of your post. Although I think the Dr Roy Spencer’s article wasn’t as dismissive as you think.
I hope Dr Spencer hasn’t decided to join the great and good who think that science should only be done by a chosen few. That’s partly what got us in this mess in the first place. We have a young scientist called Brian Cox here in Britain and his arguments for public science seems to circle around the notion that scientists should be given due deference wherever and whenever. Furthermore his attitude toward citizen scientists is one of “it’s fine for them to play just so long as they don’t challenge real scientists”.

October 9, 2013 3:02 pm

I have found squall lines to be far from specific to warmer temperatures. Meanwhile, I have noticed that when a squall line forms where otherwise only isolated thunderstorms form, there is much more uplifting of air by the thunderstorms. That air has to come back down somewhere, and it will generally be clear air.

October 9, 2013 3:06 pm

Dr Roy saw fit to comment on Willis’ character: ” sometimes Willis gives the impression that his analysis of the data (or his climate regulation theory) is original, which is far from the case. ”
The comment appears snide or condescending. It is as close as it can get to calling his work plagiarised (the ultimate sin in academia) without explicitly doing so.
Willis reacted – at length:) and made a reasonable case.
Dr Roy seems to be suffering from ivory tower syndrome and cannot be taken too seriously on this subject. If he deigns to successfully back up his statements, he might regain some credibiity.
To those complaining continuously of Willis’ ego – you clearly have never dealt with egomaniacs and you would be better off addressing your own insecurities, rather than projecting on someone else.

Larry Fields
October 9, 2013 3:06 pm

Hi Willis,
I too am a citizen climate scientist. However I have only one guest post here at WUWT.
Like your work, my Seat-of-the-Pants Dendroclimatology is original. But unlike you, I am ‘flying under the radar’.
My understanding is that academics are supposed to publish at least two articles in peer-reviewed (or pal-reviewed) journals per year. You’ve done far more than that. And yes, I’m sticking my neck out, and putting WUWT on a par with the very best academic climate science journals.
If it’s any consolation, a friend — who happens to be a leading mathematician — plus his institutionally afffiliated sponsor at Caltech, got some flack from American Mathematical Monthly. (If my ageing memory is correct, that’s the name of the prestigiuous journal in question.)
Anyway, they were getting TOO MANY articles accepted for publication there. Never underestimate the power of academic pettiness.
I’m sorry to hear that Dr Roy was having a Bad Hair Day. I hope that the two of you are able to reconcile soon. And by all means, keep up the good work — even if you inadvertently step on a few toes. Best wishes.

October 9, 2013 3:08 pm

Why did WUWT even permit this essay??
As many others, above, have noted Spencer was emphasizing the need to avoid “re-creating the wheel” (to paraphrase). And Spencer gave a succinct & profound reason for why this is a broad problem — of which Eschenbach’s cited essay is just one example:
“In retrospect, it’s now clear that public interest in climate change has led to citizen-scientists like Willis taking matters into his/her own hands, since so little information is available in a form that is easily digested by the public. Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”
Going on Spencer says:
“Anyway, I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying. But now I am asking him (and others): read up on what has been done first, then add to it. Or, show why what was done previously came to the wrong conclusion, or analyzed the data wrong.”
That’s hardly an insult at all. It is also a polite way of saying, “Great kid, you independently came up with something significant, you’ve got some smarts, but your independent findings are old news–now go back and come up with something new. Meantime, I’m really too busy to help you more as much as I’d like to. So please go away & try not to waste my, and others, time unnecessarily.”
More significantly, what Spencer is advocating is for anyone that’s not involved full-time in formal research and all that arena’s processes–the “citizen scientist”–to engage in the established systems and build from there consistent with established procedures.
What Eschenbach, and WUWT by extension, are expecting (demanding?) is typical of the du jour self-serving/self-centered approach that, if it were to have been permissible a century ago would have had an unknown patent clerk publish in 1901 (years before gaining his “PhD” academic credential in 1905) in some newspaper or pamphlet and then expect the then-experts to cow-tow to his findings in his way. Things didn’t work that way (A. Einstein worked within the system & got his work published in a prestigious/reputable physics journal on its merits). Things still don’t work that way. It remains incumbent on the outsider to work with the established system.
In other words, Eschenbach’s essay, and WUWT’s obvious willingness to publish it, reflects/conveys the rampant narcissism afflicting our society — where so many expect things should revolve around them in the particular manner they want … where ignorance of prior findings is an implicit virtue imbuing one with special needs the established authorities are expected to address as some sort of intellectual welfare entitlement (e.g. Eschenbach says: “If Dr. Roy thinks my ideas are not new, I’m more than willing to look at any citations he brings to the table. As far as I’m concerned they would be support for my hypothesis, so I invite him to either back it up or back it off.”). If one wants to get in the game they need to get on the right playing field & play by the rules, do not expect the pros to drop what they’re doing to come in play in your sandbox…or expect them to come & coach you in your private sandbox so you can get up to speed! Eeegads!!!
It’s time to stop whining & grow up.

October 9, 2013 3:09 pm

Jean Demesure:
I am writing in hope of clarifying a side-issue and, thus, averting a side-track.
At October 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm you say

In automation and system control, “regulator” or “controller” would be used instead of “governor”.

There is no definition of emergent effects such as the Eschenbach Effect, the R&C Effect, and any similar effects which may exist. So, for convenience, I will call them ‘Reversal Effects’.
Feedbacks and governors moderate the behaviour of a system. Reversal Effects establish a different system.
A positive feedback increases the magnitude of an effect.
A negative feedback reduces the magnitude of an effect.
A governor limits the magnitude of an effect.
A Reversal Effect arises in response to a direct effect, and it combines with the direct effect such that the combination has opposite sign to the direct effect (i.e. when the direct effect is +ve the combination is –ve).
So, for example, a surface warms as it is supplied with additional heat until a Reversal Effect initiates. After that any additional heat induces the surface to cool and the degree of cooling increases with increased heat input until the Reversal Effect ceases. This happens because the Reversal Effect removes heat from the surface, and it differs from a thermostat which reduces the heat being input to the surface.

October 9, 2013 3:13 pm

Ramanathan and Collins 1991 ? Hummm ….. , published 23 years ago. Never heard of it or any discussion of its content. Was it buried for some reason? Either way the patent would have expired long before now. But then it seems to not even cover what Willis has been posting with regards to the “thermostat hypothesis” here on WUWT for quite some time and over numerous posts.
Thank you Willis for your enlightenment. I think the publicly paid-for scientists like your idea and want the patent. I think you have documented your ideas quite well in a public forum here @ WUWT. It must be quite a blow to the “establishment of peer reviewed journals and the voice of authority of the publicly funded academics” to be out done by you sitting in your den and possibly taking down CAGW as well as their claim of authority. To top it all off you have had a real and exciting life while they were sucking-up as would be required in their employment.
Keep up the good work Willis. Have a few cold beers with us little people while the academic establishment sips tea with two fingers.
Hope I didn’t step on any toes here 😉

Tim Walker
October 9, 2013 3:19 pm

The two men that have brought this topic to the fore in their posts both have written in a way that I have found to be good. I believe these gentlemen will take care of the issue between them and I’ll be surprised if they don’t do a good job of resolving it. That said, the issue they are shining a bright light on is important and that is the lack of respect for the nonscientists.
As nonscientists we can hold the scientists responsible for the quality of their research and public comments about the research. As scientist they need to respect all of us that are supplying their funding and who at the same time, share the world with them.

October 9, 2013 3:22 pm

I hope there are some senior establishment figures who can help me out. I am a ‘citizen w@nker’ but I have real aspirations to become a professional. Could you put me in touch with a true expert, possibly someone with tree ring expertise ?

October 9, 2013 3:25 pm

The history of Electronics is comprised of contributions from all kinds of people. Many of those people would have been described as amateurs. One of my favorites was Oliver Heaviside.

Oliver Heaviside FRS[1] (/ˈɒlɪvər ˈhɛvisaɪd/; 18 May 1850 – 3 February 1925) was a self-taught English electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist … Although at odds with the scientific establishment for most of his life, Heaviside changed the face of mathematics and science for years to come.

Heaviside attracted lots of criticism and even animosity from the “professionals”. Most of those have faded into a richly deserved obscurity. On the other hand, if you want to make a circuit board that works in the GHz range, you had better master Heaviside’s Telegrapher’s Equations.

Gene Selkov
Reply to  commieBob
October 9, 2013 3:43 pm

commieBob: Heaviside still guides some of us to new discoveries in telegraphy:
Science is settled, eh?

October 9, 2013 3:27 pm

Ken says:
October 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm
…. If one wants to get in the game they need to get on the right playing field & play by the rules….
It’s time to stop whining & grow up.
Sounds like a claim of academic authority from you. When are you going to stop whining and grow up?
Congratulations Willis, someone really wants a patent on your idea.

October 9, 2013 3:29 pm

We’re all quite busy. But few of us have taken the heat that Dr. Roy has put up with.
Dr. Roy was hounded into commenting on Willis and gave it the time he could. Might he have done better…sure. Do we all love and appreciate them both…sure.
Let’s move on!

October 9, 2013 3:36 pm

I agree with Ken. Willis should take his spanking like an 8th grade boy instead of like an 8th grade girl, and move on. Get over it. It wasn’t a big deal.

October 9, 2013 3:39 pm

Now now boys, let us not be like the Syrian rebels and fight each other. We are in this together.

Dodgy Geezer
October 9, 2013 3:39 pm

1 – There’s nothing wrong with duplicating work in science – in fact, it’s vital. Someone completely independently replicating work that someone else has done adds considerably to our confidence that something is right. It may feel maddeningly repetitious. ALL proper deep science, examining fundamental principles, is like that. Striving for ‘novel’ findings is not the ONLY worthwhile thing to do.
2 – There is NO SUCH SPECIAL THING as a ‘scientist’. There is a ‘scientific method’ – a way of thinking. To paraphrase it, it’s hypothesis/theory/experiment. ALL humans think like this occasionally – for instance, when we drop another pin to indicate where the first one might have fallen. When you do, are you a ‘scientist’? Perhaps…
Some people are paid to use this thought process to investigate nature full-time. I tend to call these people ‘Researchers’. They use the scientific method a lot (or are meant to) but they have NO MONOPOLY on the process. You can easily see that an implication that people who aren’t researchers shouldn’t use the scientific method is stupid, if you frame it in the words I have just used.
Philosophers seem to have a much better appreciation of this. They have no difficulty at all in working with non-specialists in addressing philosophic issues. Perhaps it’s because philosophers, generally, aren’t paid a lot, and don’t feel that their livelihood is threated by people from outside their group. Medical doctors, by contrast, are usually VERY unhappy discussing any aspect of their knowledge with an outsider…

Gene Selkov
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
October 9, 2013 3:54 pm

Dodgy Geezer: “There’s nothing wrong with duplicating work in science – in fact, it’s vital.”
The only tiny nuance is that it has become impossible for a publicly funded scientist to replicate somebody else’s work on his employer’s dime. This vital means of validation is all but gone from modern science.

October 9, 2013 3:41 pm

Jeff L says:
Wilis, I don’t read Dr. Roy’s comments as an attack on you at all – I am not sure why you took it that way.

Because the only thing bigger than Wilils’ ego is the chip on Willis’ shoulder for anyone who has even the slightest disagreement with Willis.
Roy went out of his way to sugar coat what was very constructive and very gentle criticism that was as much directed at the other people who fawn over Willis as it was at the Willis who fawns over Willis. Undoubtedly, Roy made those feather smoothing gestures because he understands what a jerk Willis can be when Willis’ opinion of Willis is confronted with the reality of Willis. Futile effort.

RC Saumarez
October 9, 2013 3:42 pm

Science can be done by anybody. But to be a scientist does mean defending your ideas against criticism and testing them.

October 9, 2013 3:42 pm

kingdube says: October 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm
“Dr. Roy was hounded into commenting on Willis and gave it the time he could.”
Dr Spencer was not “hounded’ into publishing the disgraceful graphic. He has now lost all credibility with me(it was already very low due to his belief in fairies). I have never visited his website, due to the aforesaid belief, but take Willis’ word for the fact that it was published there.

October 9, 2013 3:47 pm

Cooler heads on both sides should prevail. Maybe he is correct that your analysis is either incorrect or unoriginal- I don’t know. Citizen climate scientist are the result and not the cause of poor climate science. Possibly before your analysis you could ask him or another in the field if they can recommend some relevant papers. I’m sure this can be worked out.
I realize they may feel it is tedious to contribute outside of their own projects but I think many scientists like Dr. Spencer actually enjoy teaching what they know.

October 9, 2013 3:50 pm

I’ve always enjoyed reading Willis’ theories and ideas, but I have to admit, even I assumed that others must have done work on this before, because so much of it just seems rather obvious. I find it very interesting that so far, no one can actually point to real work being done on this in the field or academia. That’s the really interesting part.
I kind of thought it was the most obvious thing in the world, that hot air rises, and hot water evaporates and forms rain and thunderclouds, and all that helps cool the planet. I’m no expert in climate science, so I assumed that it was the kind of thing climate science would have looked into first, and not last, when looking at how the earth’s climate works. That it hasn’t, and that it takes ordinary citizen-scientists like Willis to bring it up, is the real story here.

October 9, 2013 3:50 pm

“There is a ‘scientific method’ – a way of thinking. To paraphrase it, it’s hypothesis/theory/experiment.”
Willis uses real data in his presentations. That to me is science. Some others, such as Steven Wilde, post hypothesis all the time, with no follow through with real data to prove/disprove the hypothesis. I gain nothing from his posts.
Thus I enjoy Willis’ posts immensely. They are easy to read and show imaginative thinking. That keeps me coming back to WUWT.

October 9, 2013 3:57 pm

Spencer would be taken more seriously if he wasn’t a creationist. He doesn’t help the cause of skeptics when he falls in the stereotype that all skeptics lack scientific knowledge.

RC Saumarez
October 9, 2013 3:58 pm

I agree with you about Heaviside – what a genius. Recasting Maxwell’s equations, the D operator and a very practical knowledge of electricity.
I also agree that lots of “amateurs” have made contributions to electronics. The important thing is that they did experiments and compared them to theory – the essence of the scientific method.
The problem with citizen scientists is that they may not all be Heavisides but some think that they are!

October 9, 2013 3:58 pm

RC Saumarez
I agree, but there is something quite insidious creeping through the UK at the moment; the emergence, via celebrity scientists, of a science-cult with in its culture, complete with priesthood and council of cardinals (Royal Society). This is worrying to me, they seem to feel entitled to tax-payers money (almost without justification) and their followers claim sophistication by showing blind obedience to prevailing scientific opinion and loyalty to the priesthood. Climate change is probably the most prominent writ but it’s not the only one.

Ken L.
October 9, 2013 4:01 pm

The “consensus” loves to slam skeptics as being ignorant amateurs. I don’t see why Dr. Spencer would want to give the very same people who smear HIM for his religious beliefs, additional ammunition . Perhaps it is a time issue, as suggested. Scientists may not have the time to answer posts on other people’s blogs or even to keep their own going, for that matter. Dr. R. Pielke, Sr. shut down his climate blog due to that issue – busy writing a book on atmospheric models, I think. Maybe the pros need to assign a grad assistant to follow internet content? They’ve been assigned worse tasks no doubt, lol.

October 9, 2013 4:04 pm

Willis, It has been years since I was a freshman engineering student, but when I read Dr. Spencer’s response to questions raised for him to comment on your exposition of your theory, I was quickly brought back into the classroom where the “teaching technique” was to publicly humiliate an as yet uneducated student who asks an innocent question in class that was directly answered in the text they should have read in the last reading assignment! Another technique used was to single out the student who has been doing well on the quizes and seems to have the respect of the others in the classroom and attempt to publicly humiliate them by quizing them until they fail to answer, just to elevate the authority of the professor and squelch student dissent about some disagreement the class might have raised.
The teaching technique is far more sensitively illustrated (because it does not involve public humiliation) in this classic:

” Do you hear your heart beat?”
“Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?”
“Old man – how is it that you hear these things?”
“Young man – how is that you do not?”
I was never, and still am not, an advocate for public humiliation as a motivational teaching method because it rarely motivates anyone and instead just antagonizes students who now think of the professor as arrogant, impatient and one of those typical grey hairs who is always “looking down from his ivory tower of learning with disdain on the ignorant masses”.
In this case, you were never given the syllabus, so how could you expect to KNOW everything Dr. Spencer has read on the subject that is germaine to your postulate? He chides you for not googling “cloud radiative forcing”. I did. 306,000 results hardly narrows down the field to find the gems of truth. Still, Dr. Spencer did give you one really good review article which I have skimmed and am going to sit back and savor. He stated, “If you want to get some idea of what has been done on cloud feedback, then a good place to start is Graeme Stephens (2005) review of cloud feedback work performed over the years.” The link included goes to a pretty good review of literature.
In my humble opinion, Willis, Dr. Spencer’s criticism is something that you should take as a positive thing. He thinks you can take it and get better at what you do. Humility is a positive virtue. You have proven that in your writing in the past. If Dr. Spencer thinks you should read a little bit more, then perhaps that is a good thing. I certainly am going to read a little bit more.
At the same time, I too have not, in all my reading come across any other theory that so simply and logically states, in clear English, a theory about why thermaggeddon has not happened. Granted it does not answer the question about long term surface temperature meandering over decades and centuries, but it does completely squelch the Chicken Little, The Sky Is Falling alarmism. Why? Because it explains why 1 degree over a decade is nothing to worry about, when the daily temperature fluctuations of 10 – 20 – 30 degree variance are unfailingly regulated back to 298 K. It gets everyone to step back and look at the far more influential feedback – water – and stop the insane moaning about CO2.

Graham Green
October 9, 2013 4:11 pm

This isn’t a very nice situation. Willis has reacted ‘strongly’ no doubt but Spencer is bang out of order and rubs salt into the wound by posting a dud link supposedly to back up his point. If Spencer is sloppy enough to muck up a blog what else does he not bother to check?
It seems that the nut of Spencer’s whine is that he gets asked to comment on the work of people who publish their own original (to them) research that they have funded themselves and via their tax dollars.
If Dr Spencer is too busy to comment then he doesn’t have to. It’s not like Willis will get pissed with him.
Spencer patronisingly asserts that ” And we already knew that clouds, on average, cool the climate system, as described almost 25 years ago from the first Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) data.” OK how come none of the proper scientists have got the stones to stand up and say that?
Maybe the proper pay check scientists have already done all the possible analyses on all of the data but they just don’t like to tell anyone the results.
It’s self evident that Mr Eschenbach has an ego easily large enough to power a medium sized city but unfortunately for Spencer et al he also has the brains and wedding tackle to match it.
I urge Mr Eschenbach to keep calm and carry on.

George Steiner
October 9, 2013 4:15 pm

What is the definition of a citizen scientist?

October 9, 2013 4:16 pm

Really interesting Willis, thanks​!​
I think that you would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across about crowds and citizen science.​ ​In particular I feel you may find these two emerging pieces of research very relevant:
– The Theory of Crowd Capital
– The Contours of Crowd Capability
Powerful stuff!

October 9, 2013 4:21 pm

Citizen Climate Scientist. Professional Climate Scientist. Both are Climate Scientists.

Ashby Manson
October 9, 2013 4:22 pm

I always enjoy your posts Willis & think you are really onto something with your emergent phenomena thermostat idea. That being said, I think Joanne Simpson’s early work on clouds as heat pipes is quite similar to your thesis (& I think it supports it). I’d give you the link, but it was on a NASA site and that seems to be down currently.

bit chilly
October 9, 2013 4:23 pm

mcourtney at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/10/09/dr-roy-spencers-ill-considered-comments-on-citizen-science/#comment-1442136
i accept the the comment relating to the low quality journals vs the high quality journals. i believe this is down to the quality of the scientists that submit to them.this in turn leads me to believe the quality of the scientists in climate science is rather low.
i have a background in industrial ceramics and have worked with scientists in developing materials and processes.in every instance i had complete confidence in the ability of those scientists as they demonstrated not only correct knowledge,but also ability.
quite possibly the fact climate science is in its infancy and suffers from a real lack of solid evidence has lead to the debacle we face today, however, the level of confidence placed in its output by major world governments is far from justified,and i am mystified as to why members of the traditional science communities have not been more outspoken against what is going on.
as to your final comment : The as yet unanswered question is how important and skilful are the readership of WUWT.
only time will tell,but i will hazard a bet no less skilful than the climate science community 🙂

bit chilly
October 9, 2013 4:24 pm

Rud Istvan ,i am sure i will enjoy your books. i will make a point of searching them out.

October 9, 2013 4:27 pm

“C’mon, folks! Do you really think that of the billions of dollars spent on designing, launching, and keeping these satellite instruments going, that no one thought to analyze the data? Really? That’s why hundreds of scientists and engineers collaborated on such projects in the first place! ”
Roy Spencer
Then up pops Willis, who does it for fun on his own and offers an analysis and some conclusions into the public arena before they choose to, or are allowed to?
I am hoping it is just sour grapes from RS , anything else is quiet worrying.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 4:38 pm

Alan Millar says:
October 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm
Very well said. What really rankles me is that the most generous description of Spencer’s effort against the citizen scientist is that he is trying to pull rank. That is disgusting in itself. However, Spencer works in a field where quite some so-called scientists and quite a few others have tried to pull rank, tried to throw in the kitchen sink, and tried just about everything under the sun to ensure that no one does any empirical science, that all the science is top down from radiation theory, and that we are forever stuck with global averages and statistical magic.

Gene Selkov
Reply to  Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 4:52 pm

Theo Goodwin: Your brilliantly expressed observation of the top-down science and statistical magic bloody well applies to all of modern physics. Just replace “radiation theory” with whatever it is that people were awarded Nobel prizes for during the last 70 years or so. Spot on.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 4:40 pm

Mardler says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm
“Pity it entered the public arena whoever started it. May be best to have a private conversation with Roy asap, Willis.”
The shoe is on the other foot. Read Willis’ post.

October 9, 2013 4:42 pm

Hi Willis, whilst agreeing that Dr Roy’s choice of words left a great deal to be desired, I thought I’d share a personal observation on dust devils. You mentioned them in passing saying, “Typically they live for a (sic) some seconds to minutes, and then disappear.” I agree with you here as well. There are, however, some very atypical dust devils!
I grew up in Eastern Washington State, which, due to the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, is quite dry in the summer. Large portions of the state are, in fact, desert.
It was not atypical for dust devils to form during the day and last for several hours. They could be seen miles away as they pulled dust from the ground and ejected it from the top of the maelstrom. This resulted in a yellow-brown plume, situated well above ground, extending several miles downwind from the dust devil. They were largely stationary, perhaps moving so slowly that it was not apparent to the naked eye. They seemed to prefer plowed fields absent of vegetation. This made sense to me as vegetation would inhibit the localized ground heating necessary for their formation.
Thought you might enjoy a respite from the emotional maelstrom with a bit of observation on maelstroms….
Thanks for all your fine posts and keep up the good work!

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 4:44 pm

Ronald Voisin says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm
Willis, you’re way overreacting.
Nope. Willis spelled out in great detail how Spencer could go about comparing Willis’ novel physical hypothesis to the “source” that Spencer alleges has priority of publication over Willis. Spencer has refused to do so. He should do so.

Robert of Ottawa
October 9, 2013 4:45 pm

Come on guys. You both make scientific enquiry an honororable profession. I’d suggest you both get together for a beer and chow-chow.
BTW There is obviously not a positive feedback in the Earth’s so-called climate system. If there were, we would have frozen or shriveled long before now. I speak as an engineer who understand the math of feedback.
How. Often. Must. This. Be. repeated. Basic math, guys.

October 9, 2013 4:45 pm

Willis Eschenbach said:
Like I said, Dr. Roy is one of my heroes, and I’m mystified by his attack on citizen scientists in general, and on me in particular.
It’s always nice to have heroes.
About two and half years ago, Dr. Spencer’s partner, Dr. Christy, told me he was working on making public the source code he and Dr. Spencer use for their climatology work. I don’t suppose Dr. Spencer has provided any updates on the status of this project in his conversations with you?

October 9, 2013 4:49 pm

Ronald Voisin says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm
“Willis, you’re way overreacting.”
Did part of that comment get deleted?

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 4:54 pm

Mark Bofill says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm
Brilliant! You have a talent for the essay. You have portrayed who and what Spencer’s criticisms of Willis tend to betray. What impels Spencer to these criticisms remains a mystery that he should explain.

October 9, 2013 5:00 pm

So what if it’s duplication of effort. Replication is NEEDED to verify concepts, as is Publication, better yet open source publication.
Have at it Willis.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 5:00 pm

richardscourtney says:
October 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm
Once again, brilliant and definitive work from you, Richard. You have described the difference between Willis and Ramanathan that Spencer should address. Given your work, I can stop posting until something more occurs in the “exchange,” such as it is, between Willis and Spencer.

October 9, 2013 5:09 pm

Dr Roy breaking bad to regain lost lab cred? Let’s hope not.
Willis, stand your ground. Dr. Roy, stand and deliver. It’s the way of science. I particularly applaud your commitment to the way of, intent of, and spirit of the scientific method Willis with your exceptional essay above. You avoided any ad hominem personal attacks with professionalism and grace showing your commitment to the scientific method. You’ve gone from hero status to mega hero status, Batman, the Hulk and Thor had better watch out! [;-)]

October 9, 2013 5:09 pm

Ashby Manson says:
October 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm
In formulating their “hot tower” hypothesis, Simpson & her colleagues relied upon actual experiment & observation rather than computer models, which is just one reason why she was a real scientist, ie a meteorologist, & not a bogus “climate scientist” designing computer models to support their baseless assumptions. Their work also led to further advances in understanding after satellites launched based upon it added to aircraft flights into tropical cyclones.

Bill Illis
October 9, 2013 5:14 pm

I thought what Willis was posting was amazing information.
I’ve read hundreds of climate science papers and, the vast, vast majority of them are obfuscation, containing no data, completely unfathomable charts and outright garbage. They are really a waste of time and effort, but because I want to KNOW, I read them anyway and waste my time and energy.
Willis’ posts were the opposite of that.
The Cloud Feedback is a make-or-break factor in climate science. We need to know what the real data says and not what Dessler and Ramanathan and the IPCC think we are supposed to believe.
If you are global warming skeptic, then you do not automatically “believe” something that is in a climate science paper abstract because most of it is bogus, exaggeration. If you are a global warming skeptic, it is because you have seen contradictory real data yourself. Give me the numbers because I want to know.

October 9, 2013 5:16 pm

@George Steiner: “What is the definition of a citizen scientist?”
In this context I think it means Forrest Mims III, rather than a government scientist.
@Willis Eschenbach: “Unlike you, I have a reputation to uphold and defend, and defend it I will.”
“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? ” — Some Brit

October 9, 2013 5:19 pm

Mr. Eschenbach ‘s charts indicate that sea surface temperature hardly ever exceeds 30C. There are precious few data points above that approximate value. Why is 30C so magic? Why not 25 or 35? Does the 30C “wall” imply that our average global surface temperature cannot go up very much because the ocean will evaporate the energy away to space – which is to say nothing about it going way down?
Mr Eschenbach?
Dr. Spencer?

October 9, 2013 5:20 pm

As an engineer, i am confounded by the way learned scientists behave.
In engineering, I am happy to hear another’s opinion on how we intend to build something we designed – the last thing we want is an unforeseen design flaw that results in a less than best of breed product or something that does not do that for which we designed it.
In fact over many years building stuff, I can;t think of a single successful product or project we concluded that DIDN’T have critical input from others.
Still, in light of the cartoon lead-in to this excellent responsive article, I thought you good folk here might like to go to a 1935 movie that outlines just how manic two behavioural scientists can get in the pursuit of their theories – and their demented attack on opposing views,
OK it IS the Three Stooges in a colourised print of Hoi Polloi – Enjoy

October 9, 2013 5:25 pm

Because of my background (I grew up in a socialist country) I always rebel when I hear references to an authority. Willis, who is not part of academia and probably draws no significant salary from his research, has introduced many of us, not the climate scientists, to a better understanding of what the issues were and how complex things can get in the climate science. And, I have to say the same about Roy’s many posts on his blog, which accomplished the same thing – gave me a better understanding of the complexity and unresolved issues; contrasting with the consensus seeking politicians and some cooperative scientists.
Kudos to Willis for continuously searching and prying into the realm considered by some as sacred by their education and societal status.
Unlike some on this blog, I am not disturbed by this argument and as much as I side with Willis in this case (sorry Roy) I think the debate is healthy and a whole lot better than blogs where sycophantic sheep just chant the same thing over and over again.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 5:25 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm
Change that to “either wilful ignorance or plagiarism.” Spencer spends a lot of time thinking about right and wrong. He knows what he implied.

October 9, 2013 5:26 pm

I can see why Willis would take offence at being likened to Homer, but doesn’t the presentation of the “professional” climate scientist offset that? Good grief, that photo is of a complete disaster…of the two, I’d rather be likened to Homer
just sayin’

October 9, 2013 5:28 pm

Dr. Roy:
‘nature abhors the vacuous’ (there, fixed that for you)
When I do think of the billions spent doing your research – I wonder if the vast scale of pillage required for it is not the distinguishing characteristic and the major achievement.

Steve Oregon
October 9, 2013 5:29 pm

I’m no scientist but I am a human.
IMO this is an clear cut example of two very talented and decent guys simply being human.
Dr. Roy humanly misperceived some of Willis’ work and sounded off in public about it without first asking Willis about anything he had a problem with. In doing so he teed up Willis to get some unearned trashing in the comment section. That exacerbated Roy’s misstep in going off on Willis in public.
Willis, quite humanly responded in public and people have now waded in with all sorts of twists, embellishments and opportunistic slights at both.
Too bad it wasn’t a private discussion between Roy and Willis.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 5:30 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm
“At that point, Dr. Roy waving his hand at a general review of the literature is not acceptable in the slightest. He’s accused me of not knowing something I should know … but what is it that he’s claiming I don’t know?”
My take is that he referenced that article specifically as a means of teaching you all the platitudes of the field. What upsets him is that you have proposed an empirical, testable hypothesis. He wants you back in the fold of time series analysis, global average temperatures, and statistical magic. You may ignore my take.

October 9, 2013 5:31 pm

I beg to differ, but it is of absolute truthness that whenever you have upward motion over a determined área you must have subsidence somewhere else….or the upper atmosphere would get “loaded”…this happens even in hurricanes namely in the eye and in between the convective banding features.
The second thing is that squall lines emerge upon certain synoptic contexts that don´t necessarily have to do with surface “overheating”, on the other hand, a hurricane or a MCS is indeed a convective mechanism more typical of areas that experience continued accumulation of low level energy.
Regarding the rest of your post, i find the idea you are expressing that cloud cover acts as a major thermodynamic balancing machanism is a valid premiss, and further testing of this should be done…my own opinion is that low clouds would have a bigger impact than convective clouds, precisely because of the idea that if you get strong lift in a region ( with cooling efect) you would have subsidence somewhere ( with heating effect thus balancing the cooling efect you had where there was lift), the point is that this doesent happen with low stratiform clouds because the gensis of low stratiform clouds doesent require major vertical motion.

Roy Confounded
October 9, 2013 5:36 pm

Some time ago (years ago), I wrote to Roy Spencer on a number of occasions, pointing out that there was a major flaw in his repetitive claim that “clouds cool the climate system on average (they raise the planetary albedo, so they reduce solar input into the climate system)”.
My simple point is this – Clouds Do NOT cool the Earth when it is in darkness !
On average half of the Earth is in Darkness at any time, and the Clouds in that Half of the Earth will act as an insulator surely, so then it is important to include sunrise/sunset data in any calculations. So far as I am aware Spencer has never done so. Clouds do vary from night to daytime at any location, so this is important. On a cloudless night we are more likely to have a frost in the Fall. Every Farmer and Gardener knows this.
Spencer has never replied to me, or published any such data, and without it, his statements and hypotheses are meaningless clap-trap. I believe Spencer is panicking because he never considered this, and all his years of work and theories are now meaningless. I imagine he is hoping by ignoring it, it will be of little consequence.
This is not how science is done is it ?
I could be wrong, since I may be a “mere amateur” like Willis, but if I am mistaken, then no doubt some person in here will point me to the sunrise/sunset data in Spencer’s calculations, and hypotheses, or in some published paper of his.

October 9, 2013 5:37 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
Aw, JJ, you’re just jealous because you didn’t get attacked by name in public …

Neither did you.
Roy Spencer did not attack you. He offered some constructive criticism to you and (mostly) to the people who read you uncritically. ‘Hatchet job’ and ‘attacks’ and ‘slamming me with accusations’ are all inventions of your own mind, as it tries to rescue your overstuffed self-image from being confronted by the view from outside.
The persecution complex bit is one of the least attractive manifestations of your delusions of grandeur. Anthony does a disservice to himself and his other regular contributors when he allows you to throw these tantrums here. It devalues their work to be associated with your self-serving belligerence.

October 9, 2013 5:40 pm

It doesn’t matter whether it is original. It is interesting and every different explanation of something is interesting. Keep up to good work Willis!
Most of the time you would find that if you could read Russian that the Russians already did it years ago anyway!

October 9, 2013 5:49 pm

Chipotle says:
October 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm
I can see why Willis would take offence at being likened to Homer, but doesn’t the presentation of the “professional” climate scientist offset that? Good grief, that photo is of a complete disaster…of the two, I’d rather be likened to Homer
just sayin’
It’s doubly ironic as Hansen is they guy who made the claim Venus is hot due to CO2, when in fact its temperature is due to atmospheric pressure.

October 9, 2013 5:53 pm

Right on Willis. I have read many commentors stating that Willis should basically shut his yap and take his medicine, well screw that. Being a political person, I have been told on many occasions that I too needed to shut up and just let the “big boys” take care of everything by giving the opposition what it wants, but we’ll stand up next time. Except there is never a next time, just the same excuse. Willis is right to stand up to this accusation for if he doesn’t now, then when?

Jerry Haney
October 9, 2013 5:56 pm

I completely agree with your comments and the reasons for them. I hope Dr. Roy issues an appology or at least a statement that proves his accusations, because I also respect him and his science. Please keep sharing your science with us.

Eric Barnes
October 9, 2013 5:57 pm

Keep up the good work Willis. I don’t always agree with your conclusions but have confidence in your integrity and honesty. The same cannot be said about the 97%.

October 9, 2013 5:59 pm

FIG. 4. (a) The cloud longwave forcing as a function of SST.
5. Cloud feedbacks and the regulation of
tropical SSTs
house effect and that a negative feedback must operate
to limit the climatological SSTs to about 30°C. This
point was notably raised in the observational study of
Ramanathan and Collins (1991) who referred to this
runaway effect as the “supergreenhouse” effect and the
regulation of SSTs as the thermostat hypothesis. The
idea of a runaway greenhouse effect in the absence of a
regulatory negative feedback is also supported by
simple energy balance arguments (e.g., Pierrehumbert
1995; Kelly et al. 1999; among others).
tonsof good references
Tsushima, Y., and S. Manabe, 2001: Influence of cloud feedback
on annual variation of global mean surface temperature. J.
Geophys. Res., 106, 22 635–22 646.
a a few by peter webster and judith curry

October 9, 2013 6:01 pm

actually a pretty good place to start.
I know when I started looking at UHI I started with the literature review, and then read the 100 or so papers. Its a good practice to read on your own first rather than force people to give you links

John Archer
October 9, 2013 6:11 pm

Rud Istvan (Oct 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm),
bit chilly has already said it but I can’t let it go without heartily seconding him. Yours was a SUPERB comment.
On a separate note, I can’t stand the word ‘citizen‘ — in any context. I associate it with the forced totalitarian attitudes of that hideous French Revolution and for me it is the equivalent of the USSR’s komrade.
Citizens? NEVER!
People? ALWAYS.
Of course, some are lucky enough to be one’s fellow countrymen, but most aren’t — thank God. 🙂
Fcuk ‘citizenship’, and all who sail in her.
I don’t know if he is without sin or not, but Dr Roy has cast the first stone. In my book that gives you carte blanche. If you have to, I’d say start with a pebble. You can work your way up to the trebuchet and boulders later if needs be. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and that the affair is sorted out amicably, and soon. Either way, good luck. 🙂

October 9, 2013 6:14 pm

We should not cede the IPCC the right to reinvent the wheel. Roy, Willis, keep up the good work.

October 9, 2013 6:19 pm

Great essay Willis!
I completely agree with your criticisms of Dr. Roy’s blog post “from on high” of citizen scientists,, and you in particular.
After having read his blog post, I was left with the impression that the reason he didn’t support his claims with quotes and citations was because Roy doesn’t really view you as his intellectual equal in the first place (hence the Homer Simpson graphical reference) so why should he bother?.
I think that Roy has gotten too full of himself

Gary Pearse
October 9, 2013 6:23 pm

Ken says:
October 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm
Why did WUWT even permit this essay??
As many others, above, have noted Spencer was emphasizing the need to avoid “re-creating the wheel” (to paraphrase)….
“Going on Spencer says:
“Anyway, I applaud Willis, who is a sharp guy, for trying.”
Ken, and you actually think this was a nice thing for Spencer to say? People must have fun saying things to you between the lines. No, Roy Spencer and other climate scientists are upset that Willis is onto something big here (with all his posts). With all the dreck that has come out of the noisiest professional climate scientists and the bickering and politicking, it is dawning on some of them that Willis is leading climate science out of the phlogiston while most of its practitioners are sidelined as spectators. The IPCC and the thousands of “top” scientist contributors have rewritten the 1990 (?) report five times with no essential changes and, with climate behaviour getting more uncertain, they are getting more certain that humans are causing a global warming that hasn’t been happening for 17 years (after only 17 years of warming!). You will see more of these attacks on Willis when many of the mainstream recover from the warming halt that sneaked up on them and virtually shut them down. The most prolific of the pre- Climategate authors’ publishing efforts of late have dropped to less than a trickle, except for scoriating op eds and twitter twaddle . It is dawning on many of them that they have been horribly wrong as evidenced by their desperation and public prayers for everything to melt, dry up and blow away in a hurry. It casts me back aways: I remember many times brewing up tea from swampy brown water on remote geological surveys and watching the bugs swim faster and faster looking for cooler water before they sank under a handful of tea.
Roy was a surprise. He has done a lot of heavy good work and taken a lot of flack for his criticism of the mainstream CAGW guys. If Willis had nothing to contribute with his stuff, a prominent climate scientist would not be moved to attack in this fashion. Willis this was an affirmation.

October 9, 2013 6:26 pm

Ouch! A complete and unwelcome surprise.

October 9, 2013 6:31 pm

Well, I’m glad that has been settled.
One less variable in the equation.

October 9, 2013 6:34 pm

When Roy played the religion card after his testimony, he demonstrated that he is every bit a political animal first.
He’s doing bizarre behaviours.

October 9, 2013 6:38 pm

Willis seems to be a very logical thinker, has that rare motivation to actually go and do something about his ideas, and has enough skills and energy to find, examine and analyze relevant data.
But above all he has the skill of clear, concise communication.
He is able to clearly express and illustrate his findings with words and graphics in a way which gets bite sized concepts and backing data to be read by the average citizen.
He has no need in communicating here to descend into chapters and pages of convoluted scientific obscurese, a craft where Michael Mann excels, and which is probably a bit of a necessity in work for scientific publication which will usually reference and discuss all prior work on the subject at hand.
The remarkable, and in retrospect, very obvious highlight of his articles (to me) is the clear illustration of a 30°C ceiling on SST. Whatever the mechanism, there is one helluva lot of buffering capacity right there between the equator and the poles – I’d guess that zone only has to extend by a few meters in each direction to get us through the next few hundred years.

October 9, 2013 6:39 pm

Willis, I hear you. And I agree. Public castigation and humiliation must be answered. I empathize with how pissed off this must have made you. I applaud the restraint you showed in your blogged response.
In the review article I found this reference that shows some plots similar (but not quite), to the ones you came up with in both of your posts:
The lack of color that the journal forced on these authors leaves much to be desired in trying to figure out what is being conveyed. Yours made the information quite understandable.
My advice still is to “take the high road”. We will all respect you even more for it.

Dr. John M. Ware
October 9, 2013 6:41 pm

As a long-time (now retired) veteran of academe, I know that there is no magic in a degreed tenured connection with a university; the people are no smarter, and are often pettier, than people in the general public. If they are better informed, it is often in a narrow specialty; the Renaissance man of yore is rare in the modern university. There are, of course, many fine scholars and teachers in academe; however, advancement in their profession requires pursuit of publication and publicity, and it often involves a certain suspicion or jealousy of persons or ideas from outside their academic circle. Please believe me; I was in that milieu long enough to know.
In the present confrontation, Willis has my wholehearted support. He and his work have been attacked in an extremely unprofessional manner; and his reply, while a bit plain-spoken for most academics, laid out the issues properly and comprehensively.
Several commenters have remarked on the clarity and vividness of Willis’s writing. That attribute is one of the clearest possible distinctions between his work and so much of what passes for research writing in academe. For many, the working hypothesis seems to be: If the common man can understand it, I shouldn’t have written it. If it ceases being mysterious and jargonistic, I have failed in my effort to write a suitably opaque and obscure paper–thus, if someone can understand it, that someone might be able to falsify it. Not a favorable outcome. I am grateful to Willis for his clear and well-authenticated writing.

October 9, 2013 6:42 pm

I this and I that and I am the best and I know better and I figured it all out when nobody else could!
This is the ugly side of the blogosphere, IMHO. Let’s park the egos please on all sides.

October 9, 2013 6:42 pm

Strike that. The article DID have color images. I just didn’t scroll far enough!

William Sears
October 9, 2013 6:47 pm

Yes, this is all very strange. For what it’s worth I support you on this Willis. I would also want to see chapter and verse from those who choose to criticize. It is all very reminiscent of the occasional reviewer comments that I get on my own publications. I also think that you may have inadvertently stepped on someone’s toes as has already been suggested. I’ve done this before as well. Such unsupported speculation may be unworthy but there you go.
The resentment that you generate in others is staggering and the plain rudeness is almost beyond belief (I’m writing here of the comments and not Spencer), but I like your approach and I hope that I have your gumption when I am your age, which is only a couple of years from now. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. Who cares if it has been done before as it will all come out in the wash in the end. Use my approach and do the literature research afterwards. When you (I?) do weird and wonderful things the chances of duplication is slim in any case.
Although I rarely comment be assured that I read and enjoy everything that you write here.

October 9, 2013 6:51 pm

To paraphrase Clemenceau on war:
La science est une chose trop grave pour la confier aux “experts”.
And that goes double for “climate science”.

October 9, 2013 6:59 pm

Seems to me that Willis, is the lightning rod. Whatever really set Dr. Spencer off, Willis got the brunt.
If I used a graphic of Homer, friendly like to represent a close friend, I’d better have the apology shortly after the picture or be prepared to apologize mightily in person.
If Hansen going to jail was supposed to be the counterpoint softening the Homer implication, it is not enough because Hansen’s picture is absolutely true. Many another professional climate leech’s name and picture could be in that picture and the simple citizen’s thought response would still be the same.
I, as a simple citizen take offense to being portrayed as Homer. A citizen scientist should really take offense. After all, the Dr. Spencer’s climate scientists get paid for their work; anything a citizen scientist does is on their own time, dime and effort. Dr. Spencer gets to bounce ideas off of co-workers, honest feedback and ideas without too much acrimony. Willis in this case posts his ideas open for criticism on the net, and when necessary retries and reposts with identified errors/oversights corrected.
Whether Dr. Spencer intended ill with his blog post is not the question. Dr. Spencer’s blog post caused ill and Roy is directly responsible. Hopefully a responsible scientist, citizen or professional, will own up to their mistakes and apologize.

Mario Lento
October 9, 2013 7:01 pm

I hope it’s OK that I invited folks to the show at Spencer’s blog. This should be good for a scientific process debate. Willis, I love your work and honesty here. You’ve been consistent wrt “show me the data, show me the sources”

October 9, 2013 7:02 pm

RC Saumarez says:
October 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm
… The problem with citizen scientists is that they may not all be Heavisides but some think that they are!

A hundred years from now most scientists, amateur and professional, will be forgotten. We don’t know who will be remembered and who will be forgotten. When I was a student I worked with a fairly prominent scientist whose work was followed by many. Someone else came up with the proverbial game changer; and reduced my supervisor’s career to irrelevance.
A professional scientist has a small but non-zero chance of coming up with something important. An amateur has a smaller but still non-zero chance. That’s not why we do science though. It’s about the journey, not the destination. If the professionals get shirty about the amateurs, they are probably missing this important point.

October 9, 2013 7:02 pm

Jeremy says:
October 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm
“…..Let’s park the egos please on all sides.”
Well put.

Rick K
October 9, 2013 7:05 pm

I personally don’t care WHO does “something” that was done previously.
If someone can explain it to me to where I learn and I understand better, that is GOOD WORK. We need people like that — who make the knowledge accessible to many without formal training in a certain field.
AllI know is Willis makes me smarter and probably a great deal many others.

October 9, 2013 7:05 pm

A key issue I got from Spencer’s post was the importance of doing a decent literature search before diving in, to better understand the field. That is drummed into graduate students before you ever dream of starting the research.

Lewis P Buckingham
October 9, 2013 7:10 pm

Willis’ theory of global climate homeostasis bears examination and discussion.
In mammals and other animals there are centres in the brain that regulate temperature heat flow and heat creation.
Clearly since the Earth lacks any form of central nervous system this mechanism cannot explain the robustness that the Earth achieves in dampening changes of incoming and exiting heat.
The heat engine mechanisms that transport heat to the upper atmosphere could be modeled and seen if predictive.
The use of the term ‘governor’ is apt in that it correlates with say the mechanism of a steam engine,a machine, more than a random collection of inputs and outputs,which runs smoothly and not chaotically.
The fact that the discussion years ago was of Cirrus cloud formations and not Storm fronts, in the Tropics especially, points to the evolution of the discussion,as every scientist stands on the shoulders of those who precede.
As such this site needs to be congratulated as it lets other Citizen Scientists have a look at what is going on in climate science.

Theo Goodwin
October 9, 2013 7:18 pm

ATheoK says:
October 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Very well said. Given that Spencer used the image of Homer, Spencer had a hissy fit. I am truly floored.

October 9, 2013 7:27 pm

Who cares who thought of it first. If the analysis is valid, even if it is incomplete, bring it on.

Steve in SC
October 9, 2013 7:29 pm

He Mad!

Andrejs Vanags
October 9, 2013 7:33 pm

Willis, I applaud your work. Specially since it is accessible by all. I find it ridiculous that someone would put you down because ‘it has been done before’. In this age of puplish or perish, one must sieve through 100 or 200 papers just to find one or two of any worth. And we are expected to pay $35 for each crappy 4 page paper? Ridiculous, when dover sell high quality scientific paperbacks for $10. I just cant afford to pay $3500 to $7000 just for a decent paper one a single subject. In my mind this is nothing more than censorship, keeping science within a ‘select’ group. I never thought of Mr. Spenser as a snob or elitist. I hope hes not

Richard G
October 9, 2013 7:37 pm

This brings to mind Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin who each independently formulted, through observation of the natural world, the theory of evolution by natural selection…unbeknownst to each other.
That others may have also reached the same conclusions in no way diminishes your own orriginal thinking.
A wise man once said “there is nothing new under the Sun”.
“Alfred Russel Wallace OM FRS (8 January 1823 – 7 November 1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin’s writings in 1858.[1] This prompted Darwin to publish his own ideas in On the Origin of Species”. -Wiki

Don Worley
October 9, 2013 7:38 pm

I agree that the thermostat was originally Roy’s hypothesis. If you’re posting on his website, then he has every right to comment and respond. Chill!

Richard G
October 9, 2013 7:41 pm

P.S. The resemblance between the two images is striking.

October 9, 2013 7:41 pm

Well, I haven’t read Roy’s comments, but any commentary that starts with that graphic is not friendly. And on top of its cruel mockery and imposition of some kind of hierarchy of mental capability, he got it wrong. The second panel should show someone in prison stripes, because what passes for a “professional climate scientist” these days, in my eyes at least, is a crook or a crank or a totalitarian playing the system for every bit of money, power or both that our idiot political class will allow. Shame on Roy Spencer for that.
JJ says:
October 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm: PS. Screw you too. If you want to argue with Willis, be specific and factual. If you do that, he usually responds in the same tone. The cranks and misanthropes who sometimes surface here don’t deserve kind treatment.
I’m a geologist, and I love holistic solutions that call on the various real forces of earth to explain the earth’s behavior. Such as plate tectonics, an exercise in density contrasts, first and foremost, that overcame two centuries of sterile attempts to explain (and pigeonhole) “geosynclines” and all kinds of similar occurrences (rock types and fossils and metamorphic zones, etc.) on widely separated cratons that any child with a globe could piece back together. Willis has put out an holistic concept of a thermal regulator that I believe is true and important in climate. This earth has been pretty warm, and pretty cold off and on for four billion years, but it never incinerated itself nor became an eternal ice ball. Its climate is somehow regulated within boundaries fit for life as we know it, and CO2 is one tiny bit of that. There’s a lot of explanation waiting to be elucidated, and Willis at least is among those looking at what makes the earth tick.

Half Tide Rock
October 9, 2013 7:49 pm

Willis, I wish I could write as well as you do. I could care less whether or not some one n a cloistered dungeon speaking to the walls previously considered something that now draws your interest. You wish to share.it. To share it well. The spirit of the exercise is to peek the curiosity and improve the collective understanding. so that we can (“So it’s time to) abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.” – Michael Crichton …and rush into an era of enlightenment. The world has made a remarkable transition and the internet has demolished the barriers of distance, boarders and time in the aggregation of critical thought to challenges. It is absolutely inspiring.to be able to engage in a global conversation at the speed of light with individuals with facile minds. . There is a lot more to the process of advancing science than meets the eye. some times one has to rework already plowed ground to find the ring. Finally I am absolutely delighted with the gray beards who choose to share their perspective and expertise. IN our family we have a saying that one should never allow their schooling to get in the way of their education and you are well educated. Thank you for your efforts. .

October 9, 2013 7:54 pm

I am very pleased with Willis Eschenbach’s post, his reply to Dr. Roy Spencer, and his reasonable support for the “citizen scientist”. Human hubris being what it is, we need everyone — from “inside and outside” science — to insist on the truth, on the scientific method. I also have critiques at times (from “outside”) of some of Willis’ position and any way Roy the academic scientist helps Willis the citizen scientist be more effective all the better. However, Roy did not do his thing well! Name calling? No citations? It suggests a need to be condescending (someone wrote interestingly about “public humiliation”) for whatever reason. Thanks Willis for responding. I hope you and Scientist Roy can enjoy a beer together. Thanks Anthony for supporting this kind of conversation. I, being an outsider, liked this comment, as of 7:47 pdt, among the many intelligent, cogent, pointed, and hilarious comments, the best:
MarkUK says:
October 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm
“C’mon, folks! Do you really think that of the billions of dollars spent on designing, launching, and keeping these satellite instruments going, that no one thought to analyze the data? Really? That’s why hundreds of scientists and engineers collaborated on such projects in the first place! ”
Roy Spencer
Then up pops Willis, who does it for fun on his own and offers an analysis and some conclusions into the public arena before they choose to, or are allowed to?
I am hoping it is just sour grapes from RS , anything else is quiet worrying.

October 9, 2013 7:55 pm

” Dr. Spencer’s blog post caused ill and Roy is directly responsible. Hopefully a responsible scientist, citizen or professional, will own up to their mistakes and apologize”
I agree.
If Dr Spencer has any character, he will delete that post of his and apologize.

October 9, 2013 7:58 pm

teven Mosher says:
October 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm
actually a pretty good place to start.
I know when I started looking at UHI I started with the literature review, and then read the 100 or so papers. Its a good practice to read on your own first rather than force people to give you links
S.M. Funny, I recall you recently “dissed” to use the modern teenaged vernacular, a certain Dr. Svensmark, visa vie his Cosmic Ray Hypothesis, saying there was NO EVIDENCE, based on a “fictitious understanding” of the ground weather observing stations.
I corrected you by pointing out Svensmark’s papers on the Forebush decreases and the correlation with a decrease in overall cloud cover. A case of the kettle calling the pot black? (Obviously YOU had not been reading Svensmark’s work.)
Perhaps making ANY presumption about someone’s background research is perhaps “poor form” at best, and just dangerous (in the long run for the critic) at worse.

October 9, 2013 8:00 pm

I would like to comment, even though I said it before, on what is being said here is the “Eschenbach Effect”, as one of 2 mechanisms of “regulation” of temperature of the humid convective subset of tropical weather:
One is that W. Eschenbach has recently cited mentioned thunderstorms having negative feedbacks other than radiative / “cloud albedo” feedback. I continue to note that these specifics are not so much lumped into “cloud albedo feedback”, but the “lapse rate feedback”. Where I see paleohistory showing that feedback having nonlinear response – its negativity increases as greenhouse gases increase. I see that feedback as having paleohistory of capping global temperature at 24-25 C, even with 6,000 PPMV CO2, with stability dominating past of warming of the world decreasing coverage of year-to-year variable snow/ice cover.
However, I doubt his proposed “thermostat” is completely one, because I doubt Earth would maintain its current or paleo-past global surface temperature if Earth gets its orbit moved to perhaps, 1/3 of an orbit circumference ahead-of or behind Venus in its orbit. (Which I am hearing is a stable orbit for a small object, possibly not for a similar-mass object.)
Suppose the sun achieves TSI around 5-10-plus what it has now, as predicted for 4-5 billion years from now, when the sun’s “swan song” has 2 layers of 2 different fusion reactions. Certainly, I don’t expect thunderstorms to continue to continue to regulate earth’s surface temperature over the warmest of tropical waters to a 30 degree C cap.
What I see, is increased thunderstorm activity as a result of increased surface heating, especially if due to increasing greenhouse gases cooling the upper troposphere, as being a negative feedback that increases its negativity as greenhouse gases increase. I don’t see the regulation being strict on global surface temperature (assuming the sun does not brighten) until the global average surface temperatures gets to paleohistorically regulated levels of 24 to briefly 25 degrees C.
Also, even if this is a repeat, I see such regulation by thunderstorms as by being highly in a negative feedback class named by IPCC as “lapse rate feedback”, as opposed to “cloud albedo” or “cloud net radiation” feedback. Even though I see nonlinearity, of increased greenhouse gases increasing this negative feedback once the increase gets noticeable increasing thunderstorm activity – especially over tropical waters.
I would say 25 degrees C is what 6,000 PPMV CO2 would accomplish nowadays considering what I have seen in planetary paleohistory presented to me in such matters of debate, even considering a slight brightening trend in stellar evolution of main sequence stars.
And as for regulation to something that is a function of solar output – I ask for consideration that the negative feedbacks are probably less, and the positive feedbacks are probably greater, when global temperature is in-between the more-stable (historically only intermittently so) schemes of “snowball” and “ultimate greenhouse”.

Roy Confounded
October 9, 2013 8:01 pm

The Church of Global Warming ?

….. and still Roy Spencer won’t say where his sunrise/sunset data is
I personally doubt if it even exists. see my #comment-1442376 @ 5:36 pm

Douglas R. Fix
October 9, 2013 8:07 pm

As I browse the comments about “originality”, “reinventing the wheel”, blah blah blah, I am struck by the curious assumption that reinventing the wheel is a bad thing. How many iterations are required to get the “Right” answer anyway?
/Tangent. In a time and place far far away, I was taking data processed by an 8, yes 8 bit (predating personal computers) processor that had been running for years to another machine that operated differently. It was soon discovered that the data contained a rather large number of question marks in supposedly numeric fields. Not so good when working with the general ledger. Suffice it to say the number of iterations mean squat.
/end tangent
I sense a trend similar to that of amateur astronomy. Amateurs were all fine and dandy when they could supply observations as good or better than the professionals. But once the the big money meant big equipment the amateurs were not so welcome.
It appears the the size of the equipment (cough cough) means more then the size of the intellect that runs it. Even worse, it supposes that only guys with big equipment are able to correctly interpret the output. Not sure this is a good assumption.
Different folks, different strokes. The more the merrier I say.

October 9, 2013 8:09 pm

Respectfully, Willis, I love you but this doesn’t mean that Roy doesn’t have a point. Ramanathan and Collins make some statements very similar to what your Thermostat hypothesis does. From Roy’s point of view asking him to comment on whether there is a thermostat that acts in the tropics is, he can legitimately answer that this question was answered 22 years ago.
It might be instructive to lay out precisely the way in which your hypothesis differs from R&C’s especially where and when the testable predictions between the two are different.
Personally, like you, I am very dubious about the mass balance idea but I don’t know that much about it. Personally, I don’t see how an increased cloudiness has to be balanced by decreased cloudiness in another area. I think increased cloudiness is balanced by increased
Cheers, 🙂

October 9, 2013 8:11 pm

Willis, I understand your concern about Dr. Roy attacking you. He did so in a similar manner in WUWT about a year or so ago. You asked for references at that time but essentially brushed it off. Now he comes back again in a similar attack on his own blog. His excuse he did it because someone asked him to check out some of your work is unprofessional.
Roy makes mistakes too frequently for me to hold him in as good a light as you do. I think he is an okay guy but he may be jealous of your innate ability to lay out a problem, solve it and then tell it. If he is willing to offer you a apology, please accept it graciously but tell him privately that he needs to straighten up and fly right. Once was more than enough.

October 9, 2013 8:13 pm

When someone has the “facts” on hand, they usually bring them to bear quickly in order to make their point.
Links, direct quotes, citations & etc.
When someone just says “your wrong” and doesn’t back it up with specifics, it’s most often because they don’t have anything more to offer.

October 9, 2013 8:13 pm

Privided on David Appell’ssite, this video of the Spencer-Schmidt “empty chair” debate on the John Stossel show. It might give clue as to where Roy adopted his approach from.

October 9, 2013 8:14 pm

Dr. Spencer,
All here (I presume) will be interested in your considered response. You have leveled criticism. Willis has responded in depth. We await your rebuttal.

October 9, 2013 8:15 pm

Never a dull moment in the climate wars is there?
Dr. Spencer is correct, everything Willis is saying has been said a thousand times before and more to the point Willis is largely correct in what he is saying.
The problem isn’t plagiarism either, Willis is using data that is only now becoming robust enough to glean any useful conclusions from, so while his conclusions may be old his methodologies and data are new, much like Bell’s Theorom wasn’t ‘new’.
The problem is that the Climate Scientists have never learned or forgot everything they learned in Meteorology 101. Water vapor (clouds) are a negative feedback if for no other reason than water vapor lowers the lapse rate. Willis is simply providing modern data and methodology to old forgotten theories.

October 9, 2013 8:19 pm

I’m reminded of the following from Roger Pielke, Sr.’s blog post on the Wagner-Spencer controversy, of which CACA spewers like the odious Gleick tried to make so much:
Hatchet Job On John Christy and Roy Spencer By Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick
There is an opinion article at Daily Climate that perpetuates serious misunderstandings regarding the research of Roy Spencer and John Christy. It also is an inappropriate (and unwarranted) person attack on their professional integrity. Since I have first hand information on this issue, I am using my weblog to document the lack of professional decorum by Keven Trenberth, John Abraham and Peter Gleick.
The inappropriate article I am referring to is
Opinion: The damaging impact of Roy Spencer’s science
published on the Daily Climate on September 2 2011. The article is by Kevin Trenberth, John Abraham, and Peter Gleick.

October 9, 2013 8:21 pm

I’ve still never understood how, I might be accused of plagiarism for producing a theory from all this great info Anthony has/and let authors post, when I couldn’t possibly remember it all, or make citations of its origin.
Is that also my job ??, should it be ??

Jeff L
October 9, 2013 8:24 pm

JJ says:
October 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm
“Roy Spencer did not attack you. He offered some constructive criticism to you and (mostly) to the people who read you uncritically.”
JJ hits the point exactly – Willis, you have recognize that many read these blog posts uncritically (primarily due to lack of scientific training) & accept everything that is stated as truth. And that is not a trivial point. It is a huge burden, even more so as a “citizen scientist” that doesn’t play within the rules of normal professional scientists (ie no peer review of prior to blog posting).
A large part of that burden is to accept constructive criticism from professionals , such as Dr. Roy. Not blow it off. Not to be so arrogant to assume you know more than an expert in the field. To be humble. To use the feedback to grow & learn & create better blog posts, so that information present in this non-traditional format (blog w/o peer review) has greater credibility & those who read posts uncritically can walk away with confidence that they have read good information.
This isn’t about who is right or wrong, Use this opportunity to sell your case to Dr. Roy. If you feel you are right, talk to Dr. Roy directly; ask him questions which you feel will lead him naturally to your point of view. Perhaps he will then see your point of view. Alternatively, if you listen to his answers, you may learn something that increases your knowledge & changes your point of view. It is potentially a great learning opportunity for you with an expert in the field. Responding defensively is no way to sell your deal. This rarely generates a good response from the other side of the argument.
Willis, my advise is don’t be defensive. This is an opportunity to learn & grow from an expert in the field. You should be honored that an expert in the field has even taken the time to read & analyze your work as a citizen scientist. That ,in & of itself, is quite an honor. One that few, if any, citizen scientists will reach.

October 9, 2013 8:27 pm

I wished for some time now that (no offense) real scientist who post here and on other climate blogs would reference more papers, not behind a pay wall, that is. That pay wall stuff has to stop.

October 9, 2013 8:27 pm

Unnecessary all the way around !
Why is the question?

October 9, 2013 8:28 pm

@Willis — “Now, that is a clear accusation of plagiarism—he’s saying that I lifted the idea from R&C1991, and that I never mentioned that little detail. ”
Eh. That would be a lack of citation, not plagiarism. Which is, I assume, a big deal in the publish or perish world. But even then, to support the claim of not giving due credit requires accepting:
1) That it is not an obvious idea.
2) That people cannot come up with non-obvious ideas on their own.
3) That you knew about R&C 1991 at some point in that past.
4) That you remembered it in the present.
5) That you R&C 1991 says the same thing you are.
6) That you understand that R&C 1991 says the same thing you are.
There are 6 spots to fill out on a lottery ticket also. But the Spencer’s claim is the weakest of sauce in general and is hardly deserving of the sound and fury being raised.
That said, right now I would kill to see a photo here of Mr. Mims sporting a fedora.

October 9, 2013 8:39 pm

Let’s see how long this takes for it to bounce around the blogs and come back as laughter at Spencer, Protector of Real Science.

October 9, 2013 8:42 pm

Jquip says:
October 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm
Does this count?:
Closer to the kind of cowboy hat my grandfather wore than a fedora, but not too far off.

October 9, 2013 8:43 pm

I think mockery or rebuttal of Dr Roy’s fatuous post is absolutely called for! Pile on! Not because of his science (which as Willis says is OK), or his tone, but because he chose to be the establishment Read it as the 17th century French button makers guild complaint (except the government/King Louis cannot yet burn us at the stake). Established client scientist is aghast/perplexed and horrified that mere citizens have R, Mathematica, access to government (guild) datasets, terabytes and supercomputers (by 2000 standards) at home. And some of us even know how to use them. Oh my, whatever are they to do?

October 9, 2013 8:48 pm

Opps, I’m not saying anyone was ever accused of plagiarism, but it came up the discussion.

Dr Burns
October 9, 2013 9:09 pm

It all comes across as a ridiculous clash of egos. Willis, if you followed the common professional practice of adding a list of relevant references relating to your work, at the end of your submissions, it might keep Dr Roy happy. You are both doing good work. Stop the in-fighting and get back to attacking the IPCC nonsense and scams.

October 9, 2013 9:21 pm

Stop bleating, Roy is right and Watts is is more than indulgent.

October 9, 2013 9:34 pm

This outburst by Roy Spencer in defence of a defunct climate establishment is puzzling. Establishment climate science is a curiosity-free dead zone with nothing to offer scientifically. Citizen climate science will bury establishment climate science.

R. de Haan
October 9, 2013 9:37 pm

Willis, get a degree and shot them up, lesser minds than you did it.
Dr. Roy, save your time and ammunition to shoot warmist points of view
We don’t have the time for this BS.

October 9, 2013 9:38 pm

There are more of us than there are of you.

October 9, 2013 9:44 pm

Conrad6: “Oh my, whatever are they to do?” (established client scientists)
Heh. If I had it in my power, send most home for a few-year break and on their own terabyte desktop super-computers research for free as many “citizen scientists” here already do so.
No really, wonder what they would do if locked out of “peer review”, have no chance of grants, face the pay walls. Would they still remain proper climate scientists simply for an interest and curiosity of the science during their spare time from another unrelated and boring job? Or just find something else, anything else, to sell to the government? Interesting question.

October 9, 2013 9:44 pm

I agree with Dr. Spencer as the climate debate is tiring enough with credentialed skeptics (there are plenty). I believe there is a place for citizen scientists, especially with commentary but I never reference (and rarely read) any of Willis’s scientific blog posts but would have no problem citing his peer-reviewed papers. The reason is, once a paper is published, it’s scientific credibility is not questioned relating to the author’s credentials and citizen scientists are generally on equal footing.
The people who find this unfair have either not been debating this long enough or are fooling themselves.
If you look at what Dr. Spencer is complaining about is the comments from people on Willis’s posts who come away believing things to be “so obvious” when they may not be so. I saw this problem when people were wanting Willis to testify in front of Congress on climate change issues over credentialed scientists. Once a congressman asks Willis for his climate science credentials it would be game over. From then on, anyone not a Willis fan would disregard everything he has to say as coming from someone who does not know what they are talking about.
There is a way around this and that is for people who want to be taken serious on a subject to get a relevant graduate degree on the subject and or employed in the field of interest (which usually requires a graduate degree on the subject).
This is why I am not interested in Mosher’s (B.A. English Literature with a career in Marketing) “scientific” analysis of anything either.
There is some form of bizarre jealously with certain people against relevant credentials as “elitist” (see various comments to this post) when it simply demonstrates proficiency. So these people naturally attach themselves to an Everyman like Willis.
I have never ever seen a citizen scientist argument win anyone who was not already a fan of said citizen scientist over without them publishing a paper on it.
While I’ve convinced plenty of people (or significantly reduced their alarm) using arguments from Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Michaels, Dr. Pielke, Dr. Christy ect… so why make your life harder?

October 9, 2013 9:48 pm

Willis, you published “The thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis” in Energy Environment Vol 21 No4 2010. but it is strange that you have not mentioned the next paper in the same edition of the journal by Dr Noor Van Andel “Tropical rainstorm feedback” . I would imagine that Dr Roy Spencer has not read either paper or looked at the references cited. Have a look at his figure 2. Has it any relation to your graphs? The late Dr Van Andel was a chemical engineer who certainly knew more about heat transfer than Dr Roy and probably knew more than all the so-called climate scientists put together. His paper (p277) in the same edition “Note on the Miskolczi theory” shows that he is one of the few that understood what Miskolczi has proposed.

October 9, 2013 9:54 pm

I’ve got 4 Higher degrees related to statistics: it does not give me the right to assume I know more about a certain subject especially statistics which most of Meteorology and “climate science” relies on, and even more so in today’s world of the internet with instant access to data. Dr Spencer has got a fail on this one.

October 9, 2013 10:00 pm

Eliza, you do know more about statistics than someone without a statistics degree.

Rick Lynch
October 9, 2013 10:07 pm

Roy Spencer’s post is hardly a hatchet job. It reads like a reasonable post to me.

October 9, 2013 10:13 pm

Poptech says:
October 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm
“There is a way around this and that is for people who want to be taken serious on a subject to get a relevant graduate degree on the subject and or employed in the field of interest (which usually requires a graduate degree on the subject).”
I read this deep into the thread cus I take it serious.
There might be more “degrees” commenting here than you assume.
You finish with:
“… so why make your life harder?”
In a word…….. citizen.

October 9, 2013 10:13 pm

Although Willis can at times be a difficult and prickly fellow to deal with I think Dr Roy’s cartoon is totally unjustified if he meant to have an exchange of ideas or to present constructive criticism. It just seems he meant to denigrate. If he doesn’t have the time to explain issues in simple terms then he needs to to make time and provide an essay on this site not in journal gobbledygook but in more simple language that puts forward his views with references. Then there can be an exchange of ideas rather than a left field ambush. I am disappointed in Spencer’s approach, he goes down a couple of rungs in my opinion.

gopal panicker
October 9, 2013 10:15 pm

thunderstorms and cirrus clouds are entirely different animals….that said,an overly mathematical analysis of something like cloud cover…which varies constantly and cannot be measured accurately is a waste of time…similarly Dr Spencer’s most famous product…the UAH…’global average temperature’…purporting to measure something that constantly varies with time and place…is a nonsense term…as for citizen scientists… i recall that a certain third class clerk in the swiss patent office named Einstein made some important contributions.

October 9, 2013 10:17 pm

I am reminded of the harsh thumping I got as I wrote, re-wrote, re-wrote, and again re-wrote my Masters Thesis. And then of the harsh thumping I got as I wrote, re-wrote, re-wrote, got rejected, and again re-wrote with SUBSTANTIAL help from a much smarter guy then I could ever hope to be, the journal article that eventually got published. Not one reviewer sugar coated their comments. It was harsh right up to the acceptance notification.
In the end, after I ate my fill of humble pie, I ended up with a pretty darn good piece of work, with credit not to myself but to all those folks who took the time to thump on me (not to mention the scientists I referenced in the much expanded literature review section). I came out too head-sore and bloodied to want more of that. But the work has since been duplicated by others and thus stood the test of time. So the trial by fire was good.

October 9, 2013 10:17 pm

Boys, boys! The enemy is over there! 🙂
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day,
– Henry V

October 9, 2013 10:24 pm

cementafriend says:
October 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm
Thanks for the reference to the papers by Willis & Dr. van Andel in:
I note that Willis cited a paper co-authored by Dr. Spencer among his references:
Spencer, R, et al., 2007, Cloud and radiation budget changes associated with tropical
intraseasonal oscillations, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L15707,
Whether Willis’ contribution is original or not, it is IMO well argued, even if not couched in traditional scientific paper format & style.
I was also impressed by Dr. van Andel’s paper, which cites Willis’ preceding study. The abstract & conclusion of Dr. van Andel’s “Tropical Rainstorm Feedback” state:
“In the set of radiative feedbacks to global warming due to a doubling of the CO2
concentration, from all the models the increase in latent heat transfer as a
consequence of an increase of [sea] surface temperature is left out. Starting from
measurements of increased evaporation and increase of wind speed as a function of
sea surface temperature increase, I derive a large global feedback of −20 Wm−2K−1.
This negative feedback is much larger than the balance of feedbacks, range +0.8 to
+2 Wm−2K−1, included in the climate models. If the latent heat transfer feedback, i.e.
tropical rainstorms, would be included in the models, the local climate sensitivity
would decrease from 1.5 to 4 ºC for a doubling of CO2 to less than 0.2 ºC. This is
lower than the temperature variations due to solar magnetic, ocean current and
volcanic aerosol effects.”
“Modern ground based and satellite measurements, climate history data and geological
data all point to the fact that when it becomes warmer, the high latitudes rise much
more in temperature than the tropics. This can only be the result of increased heat
transfer from the tropics pole ward. Established physical transport phenomena science
lets us quantify this heat transfer and its dependence on surface temperature. The result
is a much larger negative feedback than the positive sum of feedbacks incorporated in
the known climate models. This large negative feedback should be incorporated into
these models. The result would be that the climate sensitivity is reduced tenfold. A
doubling of the CO2 concentration has such a small temperature effect, that this is
indiscernible from all other effects.”
His estimate of climate sensitivity of only 0.2 K is lower than I’d go, but is a defensible number. In effect, whether 0.2 or 2.0 K, ie net feedbacks negative or slightly positive, the effect of CO2 is negligible & swamped out by other factors. Either Lindzen & Choi’s (2011) 1.0 K, net feedbacks neatly balanced at 1.2 K or even the bottom of IPeCaC’s latest, new lower, narrower range of 1.5 K all work for me.
Earth’s Phanerozoic climate system indeed appears to be homeostatic within established temperature bounds, by whatever hydrological or other processes. In the Precambrian or in another 543 million years hence, maybe not so much.

Keith Minto
October 9, 2013 10:26 pm

In the end we all have to stand proud and defend ourselves, and Willis is doing just that.
In another age it would be pistols at 20 paces, and that would never do; we need both of them.

October 9, 2013 10:29 pm

RC Saumarez says: Is Steven McIntyre a citizen scientist? He is a trained mathematician and has years of experience in the practical use of statistics. Because of this, he was able to dissect the mathematics used by Mann, publish his results, and show that it was incorrect. It is unlikely that someone who has not had mathematical training would have spotted Mann’s error.

That depends on the definition but McIntyre’s credentials are relevant to the work he did and he did get it published thanks to Dr. McKitrick (but might not have if Ross did not push the issue). Jones and Mann only began to panic when his papers were getting published.
Stephen McIntyre, B.Sc. Mathematics, University of Toronto (1969), Graduate Scholarship, Mathematics, MIT (1970); Commonwealth Scholarship, Oxford University, UK (1970); PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), Oxford University, UK (1971)
Choices in life have an effect and if Steve had chosen the graduate degree from MIT instead of a PPE from Oxford (if only he knew he would be devoting so much of his life in the future to climate science), it would likely have made some of his life now easier.

October 9, 2013 10:31 pm

Spencer isn’t concerning himself with science per se or how it is done, rather he’s concerned over postiive reactions to Willis’ posts. He says so.

October 9, 2013 10:34 pm

u.k.(us) says: I read this deep into the thread cus I take it serious.
There might be more “degrees” commenting here than you assume.
You finish with:
“… so why make your life harder?”
In a word…….. citizen.

Yes and No, comments from those with science degrees are usually easier to separate from those without. More degrees than I assume? Possibly? Relevant degrees commenting attacking Dr. Spencer? Unlikely. People who follow Willis generally look down on relevant credentials as “elitist” or some other nonsense.

October 9, 2013 10:38 pm

Poptech says:
October 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm
“…..it would likely have made some of his life now easier.”
Someone told you it would be easy, or what ?

October 9, 2013 10:41 pm

thisisnotgoodtogo says: Spencer isn’t concerning himself with science per se or how it is done, rather he’s concerned over positive reactions to Willis’ posts. He says so.

Then you did not read it clearly. He is concerned with what he believes is misinformation in Willis’s posts and commentators going, “Willis you are the best! …so obvious no one thought of this before” …when they did.
I have nothing against Willis personally but I recognized his long winded posts as more rambling than scientific. The problem with fanboys is they cannot see it.

October 9, 2013 10:43 pm

I don’t see Dr. Spencer’s article as being an attack. It reads as an objective, cautionary article aimed at trying to set a demarcation between retrospective analysis built on existing knowledge and new research and contribution to the body of literature. I don’t intend to criticize Willis as his insight is valuable but I also fail to find fault in Dr. Spencer’s views on the issue.

October 9, 2013 10:43 pm

Let me break it to all the Willis fanboys, outside of Watts up With That and some of his friends in the skeptic community, no one takes him or what he posts here seriously.

October 9, 2013 10:45 pm

u.k.(us) says: Someone told you it would be easy, or what ?
I take it you either don’t actually debate this topic much or don’t win those debates?

October 9, 2013 10:51 pm

Poptech says:
October 9, 2013 at 10:45 pm
u.k.(us) says: Someone told you it would be easy, or what ?
I take it you either don’t actually debate this topic much or don’t win those debates?
Its not easy, but somebody has to do it.

October 9, 2013 11:05 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
“I’ve previously commented on Willis’ thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article.”
Now, that is a clear accusation of plagiarism—he’s saying that I lifted the idea from R&C1991, and that I never mentioned that little detail.

No. From your commentary on Ramanathan and Collins, it is clear to those that have read the paper that you have not. Roy undoubtedly understands that, and of course he also understands the corollary: that you cannot have plagiarized a paper that you have not read and do not comprehend.
He isn’t accusing you of plagiarism, he is attempting to get you to read the damn thing and acknowledge what is in it the next time you reinvent the wheel. Hint: A component of the R&C hypothesis is the assumption that the increased longwave (greenhouse) forcing under a warming environment gets exported by atmospheric dynamics. Sound familiar?
It’s also a hatchet job to accuse me of not doing my homework without pointing out the prior studies that I’m supposed to be ignorant of.
Among the papers that Roy has pointed out to you:
Ramanathan and Collins, 1991.
Manabe and Strickler, 1964
Graeme Stephens 2005
Hartmann and Michelsen 1993
Lau et al. 1994
You have not read more than the three-sentence abstract of the first. How far did you get with the rest?
And do understand the broader point that Roy is making: You are treading over very well worn ground, while giving the impression that you are breaking trail. He is giving you a “heads up” that a significant length of your neck is sticking out. That is a friendly thing for him to have done – yet again – and he was consciously gentle in how he went about it.
Swallow your pride and express gratitude for the gift.

October 9, 2013 11:09 pm

re #poptech
“Willis fanboys… no one takes him or what he posts here seriously”
This forum IS peer review and debate, unlike whatever echo chamber your mind lives in.
I certainly take him seriously: as we thumped each other in a long thread about models, their meanings, reality, corruption and real world shadows. I think I won on points, but I had done the modeling stuff off and on for 40 years while Willis was off wrestling polar bears or something.
Willis is not the citizen theorist scientist (imho), he’s the citizen observer scientist. Like whoever found the dawn redwoods. And if they look too much like scrub pine, he’ll say so. No NSF grants are binding his tongue.

October 9, 2013 11:15 pm

Fanboys to the rescue…

farguard says: This forum IS peer review…

Hilarious laughter ensues. Distorting the implied meaning of a word is a strawman argument.

Daryl M
October 9, 2013 11:18 pm

Dr. Spencer, I’m sure it’s tough getting out of bed some days, knowing you have to carry the heavy burden of being a “climate change denier”, but of all people, I would have thought you would know better and take the high road by contacting Willis directly and privately, rather than to go postal and vent your frustrations, airing your dirty laundry in public as you chose to do. Would you have us believe you have nothing better to do with your time than engage in a public pissing match with someone who’s on the same team? Willis, whom you derogatively referred to as a “citizen scientist” and insultingly depicted as Homer Simpson, has made enough of a contribution to the debate to deserve the courtesy of a private conversation about your issues, not to mention that he has a right to expect you to provide citations that defend your point and to not be depicted in such a manner. You really blew this and you owe Willis a long apology.

Daryl M
October 9, 2013 11:21 pm

Poptech says:
October 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Let me break it to all the Willis fanboys, outside of Watts up With That and some of his friends in the skeptic community, no one takes him or what he posts here seriously.

Remind me again who you are and why anyone would or should take you seriously?

October 9, 2013 11:27 pm

Daryl, don’t take me seriously if you wish, I do however have extensive experience in debating this subject online, in hundreds of forums and websites for over seven years. So you may find my anecdotes helpful or you may not, I really don’t care.

October 9, 2013 11:30 pm

milodonharlani says:
October 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm
Thanks for the amplification of my comment. I should have put a link to the papers -my lame excuse is that in the past links have caused my comments to go into cyberspace (or those pesky dimensions above four which the quantum mechanics people like to play with)

October 9, 2013 11:32 pm

Poptech says:
‘ thisisnotgoodtogo says: “Spencer isn’t concerning himself with science per se or how it is done, rather he’s concerned over positive reactions to Willis’ posts. He says so.”
Then you did not read it clearly. He is concerned with what he believes is misinformation in Willis’s posts and commentators going, “Willis you are the best! …so obvious no one thought of this before” …when they did.”
Right! that’s what he’s conscerned about he says. Why be concerned about that? If it’s not science, then so what? He’s not concerned about junk science being put out ata ll. He’s concerned that someone admires Willis and Willis’ writings.

October 9, 2013 11:35 pm

The irony is that R&C’s cirrus clouds are the consequence of convective thunderstorms moving tons of water vapor (and heat) into the stratosphere.
Typical cart-before-the-horse causality reversal by climate science.

October 9, 2013 11:37 pm

Poptech says:
October 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm
Fanboys to the rescue…
farguard says: This forum IS peer review…
Hilarious laughter ensues. Distorting the implied meaning of a word is a strawman argument.
Your cut-and-paste comment has devolved into name-calling, are you almost done ?
Don’t know where you go from here.

October 9, 2013 11:37 pm

And that’s exactly what Gavin Schmidt was concerned about with Dr. Roy!
HIlarious stuff by Roy.

October 9, 2013 11:40 pm

Poptech says (along with other babble not quoted
“Daryl, don’t take me seriously if you wish, I do however have extensive experience in debating this subject online, in hundreds of forums and websites for over seven years. So you may find my anecdotes helpful or you may not, I really don’t care”
Question – are you one of those machines trying to pass the Turing test? If so, you need another semester or 2.

October 9, 2013 11:40 pm

On which page of IPCC AR5 is Ramanathan and Collins 1991 cited? Or Van Andel 2010? Or maybe Miskolczi?
So none of them can read either? I guess that’s your point.

October 9, 2013 11:42 pm

Re: JJ @October 9, 2013 at 11:05 pm
“Hint: A component of the R&C hypothesis is the assumption that the increased longwave (greenhouse) forcing under a warming environment gets exported by atmospheric dynamics.”
But increased longwave forcing is not the mechanism that causes the clouds to form in the first place. It’s direct solar insolation of the sea surface.
Again, cart-before-horse. Climate science: Clouds cause localized longwave forcing which causes…clouds.

October 9, 2013 11:42 pm

Roy just projected his inner defeat at at the hands of Dr.Schmidt.